There is no known risk in giving breastfeeding women the Covid-19 vaccine, and mums who are breastfeeding are now being offered the vaccine when they are eligible.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have said that there is a lack of data, but no known risk in giving available Covid-19 vaccines to breastfeeding women.
The JCVI added that the important developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding mean that the vaccine should be available for breastfeeding women GOV.UK (2021).
You might find it useful to watch our video below, where we put your questions on having the Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy and breastfeeding to an expert panel.
So, can I have the vaccine if I’m breastfeeding?
If you are breastfeeding your baby and over 18, you can go onto the NHS website and book a vaccination.
Further information can be found on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) website.
A health professional such as a GP or midwife can talk you through the risks and benefits to help you make an informed decision about vaccination.
I’ve been told that I need to stop breastfeeding to have the vaccine. Is this true?
You don't need to stop breastfeeding in order to have the vaccine. The RCOG website states that "there is no plausible mechanism by which any vaccine ingredient could pass to your baby through breast milk. You should therefore not stop breastfeeding in order to be vaccinated against Covid-19." RCOG (2021)
What if I don’t want the vaccine, will I lose my protection as an at-risk person?
You shouldn’t be put under any pressure to have the vaccine or not have the vaccine. If you choose not to have the vaccine, you should still continue to be given the same protections for at-risk groups, such as being allowed to work in a different place HIFN (2021).
Which vaccine will I have?
If you’re breastfeeding, you can have any of the three Covid-19 vaccinations (Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines) currently authorised for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) HIFN (2021).
The government has said that people under the age of 40 should be offered an alternative vaccine to the AstraZeneca vaccine, because of the benefit to risk ratio for this age group. Up until the end of March 2021, there have been 79 reports of serious blood clots following vaccination with the AstraZeneca jab, of over 20 million doses given. This means that roughly four people experience serious blood clots for every million doses. RCOG (2021)
I’ve read on a forum that I shouldn’t have the vaccine – is this true?
You may find the decision on whether or not to get vaccinated an emotional and difficult one to make. But be aware that many messages on online and other forums are based on individual opinion and not on scientific evidence.
Speak to a health professional about the vaccine to get up-to-date and reliable guidance. It's worth bearing in mind that the vaccine has now been given to large numbers of people to make sure it meets strict safety standards. RCOG (2021)
Page last reviewed: 24 June 2021
RCOG information updated 9 April 2021: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/coronavirus-cov…
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists merged information sheet and decision aid: updated 12 April 2021 https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/2021-02-24-co…
Hospital Infant Feeding Network Factsheet on use of Covid-19 vaccinations in breastfeeding and pregnancy (January 2021) https://www.hifn.org/covid-interim
GOV.UK Covid-19 vaccination: a guide for women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding (January 2021) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-women-of-childbearing-age-currently-pregnant-planning-a-pregnancy-or-breastfeeding/covid-19-vaccination-a-guide-for-women-of-childbearing-age-pregnant-planning-a-pregnancy-or-breastfeeding