Pregnancy, breastfeeding and COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 can be serious for women who are pregnant. The best way to reduce your risk is to get all the 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, unvaccinated 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)
  • stillbirth
  • admission to a hospital newborn care unit.

The best way to reduce this risk is to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

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COVID-19 vaccines are safe during pregnancy

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.

Booster dose during pregnancy

If you are pregnant you can consider getting a booster dose, 6 months after your last vaccine dose or COVID-19 infection, whichever is more recent. This includes severely immunocompromised people who have had 3 doses as part of their primary course.

Pregnancy is not considered a risk factor if:

  • you don't have any other risk factors for serious illness
  • you've already received 3 doses of a COVID-19.

Find out more about booster doses.

Vaccination after COVID-19

If you have had COVID-19 you should wait for 6 months after the confirmed infection for your next COVID-19 vaccine.

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.

You should get the next scheduled dose of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible after 6 months. You should still have all the recommended doses.

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

The first clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines did not include pregnant women. There was limited evidence available during the early stages of the vaccine rollout.

The risk of severe disease from Omicron COVID-19 variants in pregnant women is now considered to be lower than in previous ATAGI booster advice. This is because of the high number of people with hybrid immunity from infection and vaccination.

Pregnancy is not currently considered a risk factor for severe illness in women who:

  • have already completed a primary course and booster
  • do not have any medical risk conditions.

Read ATAGI’s latest advice on boosters.

Advice for breastfeeding women and women planning pregnancy

COVID-19 vaccination is safe and recommended for women who are breastfeeding and women planning pregnancy.

It is safe to continue breastfeeding before and after your vaccination.

If you are planning pregnancy, please note:

  • you do not need to avoid becoming pregnant before or after a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • vaccination does not affect fertility.
  • you do not need to have a pregnancy test before getting vaccinated.

Getting more information

You can get more information about COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy from:

We have also developed our own guides available for download: 

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