Pregnancy, breastfeeding and COVID-19 vaccines
COVID-19 is more dangerous for women who are pregnant. The best way to reduce your risk is to stay up to date with all COVID-19 vaccinations recommended for your age group or individual health needs. You can receive the vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.
COVID-19 risks during pregnancy
If you are pregnant and test positive for COVID-19 you have a higher risk of certain complications.
You have an increased risk of:
- admission to hospital
- admission to an intensive care unit
- invasive ventilation (breathing life support).
Your baby also has an increased risk of some complications, including:
- premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
- admission to a hospital newborn care unit.
The best way to reduce this risk is to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe during pregnancy
A United States study of more than 35,000 pregnant women showed no difference in side effects between those who were pregnant and those who were not. Women who were pregnant did not show any unique side effects.
Results from the vaccine program in Israel have also shown that Pfizer is effective in preventing COVID-19 in pregnancy.
Vaccination does not increase the chances of pregnancy complications such as premature delivery, stillbirth, small for gestational age infants and birth defects.
Talk to your GP if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy.
Protection from COVID-19 for your baby
Research shows that the antibodies created during pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine can cross the placenta. This occurred in women who received their first dose early in pregnancy and were fully vaccinated before their baby was born.
These antibodies may provide the baby with some protection against COVID-19 for the first few months of life.
Third and booster doses during pregnancy
If you are pregnant with severe immunocompromise you should receive a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as part of your primary course.
If you are pregnant you should also have a booster dose, 3 months after your primary course. This includes severely immunocompromised people who had 3 doses as part of their primary course.
Some people are also recommended to have an additional booster dose, or fourth dose. This additional booster will be a fifth dose for people who are severely immunocompromised, have an underlying medical condition or disability.
Pregnant women aged between 30 to 50 years old have the option to receive a fourth dose following a discussion with their GP, to see if it is right for their individual health needs. While there are no safety concerns, a fourth dose is not recommended by ATAGI for all pregnancies at this time.
Find out more about booster doses.
Vaccination after COVID-19
If you have had COVID-19 you should wait to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine for 3 months after the confirmed infection.
This is to optimise your vaccine protection. A longer gap between infection and vaccination is likely to lead to a better immune response and result in longer protection from reinfection.
The next scheduled dose of COVID-19 vaccine should be given as soon as possible after 3 months. You should still have all the recommended doses.
Staying up to date
To be considered up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, you must have completed all the doses recommended for your age and health status.
Find out about how to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
Side effects after COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy
Most potential side effects from COVID-19 vaccines are mild and go away in a few days. See our general guidance on side effects.
If you have any of these side effects after your vaccination, you can take paracetamol to ease the symptoms. Paracetamol is safe in all stages of pregnancy.
Studies from around the world have not found any side effects specific to pregnancy or birth.
Why the advice has changed
Pregnant women were not included in the first clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines. There was limited evidence available during the early stages of the vaccine rollout.
Getting more information
You can get more information about COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy from:
- The Jean Hailes podcast – Vaccines, safety and women
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) – Pregnancy and COVID-19 Vaccination Webinar, translated versions are also available
- RANZCOG statement - reiterating advice on COVID-19 vaccination
- Australian Academy of Science – Pregnancies, periods and COVID-19 vaccines: what you need to know
- Australian College of Midwives – COVID-19 vaccination online e-learning space
- Midwife Cath’s podcast – Professor Alison McMillan discusses COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy – Birth, Baby and Beyond.
We have also developed our own guides available for download:
This decision guide to COVID-19 vaccination is for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy.