COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant and lactating women

Dr Dege

By Nyasha Mutena

There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause female or male fertility problems, Medical Dr Dege has said.

During a workshop organized by Avac on health and science reporting, Dr Dege said pregnant women are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people hence an urgent need for them to receive the vaccine.

Getting the vaccine during pregnancy can protect expecting mothers from severe illness from COVID-19. However, he mentioned the need to also consult a healthcare professional.

“Pregnant people are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Although the overall risk of severe illness is low, pregnant and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared with non-pregnant people,” he said.

Experts have stipulated that pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes compared with pregnant women without COVID-19.

Based on how these vaccines work in the body, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a risk for people who are pregnant. However, there are currently limited data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people.

Also, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)COVID-19 vaccines which it had authorised must not be withheld from pregnant individuals who choose to receive the vaccine.

“We strongly recommend that women talk with their doctors to discuss all factors about the vaccine and their pregnancy.

“Symptomatic pregnant individuals who contract COVID-19 are at more risk of severe illness, complications and death than non-pregnant women. Many pregnant women have medical conditions that put them at further increased risk,” FDA says.

It is important to know that no study to date has specifically evaluated the coronavirus vaccine in pregnant and lactating women, though there have been a few pregnant women who were inadvertently enrolled in the vaccine trials.

Preliminary developmental and reproductive toxicity studies do not indicate any adverse effects on reproduction or fetal development.
Thus, there are not any known safety concerns, but more data will be available in the weeks and months ahead from additional studies.