The Royal College of Gynaecologists & Obstetricians (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) recommend Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy. Vaccination is the best way to protect against the known risks of Covid-19 in pregnancy for both mother and baby. Find out more below.
Why is it important to get the vaccine if you're pregnant?
While more than half of pregnant women who test positive for Covid-19 have no symptoms, some pregnant women can get life-threatening illness from Covid-19. This is especially the case if they already have underlying health conditions.
You’re at increased risk of becoming very unwell with Covid-19 in the later stages of pregnancy, and 1 in 10 pregnant women admitted to hospital with symptoms of Covid-19 need intensive care.
What’s more, if you’re pregnant and get Covid-19, it’s twice as likely your baby will be born early. You’re also more likely to develop pre-eclampsia, and more likely to need an emergency caesarean. Your risk of stillbirth is also twice as high, although this number still remains low.
No pregnant women who have received both doses of the vaccine have been admitted to hospital since the vaccination programme began (RCOG, 2021).
Who can have the vaccine?
All pregnant women over the age of 18 can have the vaccination. JCVI (2021)
You can find further information on this This Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) info sheet which is there to help you make a personal decision. You can also discuss the benefits and risks of vaccination in pregnancy with a health clinician on an individual basis.
What is the evidence of safety?
Although clinical trials involving pregnant women in the UK are still underway, around 130,000 women in the US have been vaccinated with mRNA vaccines (these include the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines). 51,000 pregnant women have received a Covid-19 vaccination in England, and 4,000 in Scotland as of July 2021 . There haven't been any safety concerns reported following these vaccinations RCOG (2021).
Can I get vaccinated at any time during pregnancy?
The vaccination should work and is considered safe at whatever stage of pregnancy you are in.
Some pregnant women have said they'd rather wait until after 12 weeks. However, as Covid-19 can be more serious in later pregnancy, it would then be important to have the vaccination soon after and before the third trimester. RCOG (2021)
How do I arrange to have the vaccination?
If you are pregnant and over 18, you can log onto the NHS website and book a vaccination.
On the national booking page, there is an option to say that you are pregnant. This will mean you are offered an appointment at a centre with the type of vaccinations recommended for pregnancy. You can then discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with your doctor or nurse. GOV.UK (2021)
Will having the vaccine give me Covid-19?
The Covid-19 vaccines we use in the UK are not 'live' and so do not cause a Covid-19 infection in you or your baby. What's more, studies of the vaccine on pregnant animals haven't shown any signs that the vaccine harms the pregnancy or fertility. RCOG (2021)
Which vaccine will I have?
Because mRNA jabs, such as the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, have been used for 130,000 pregnant women in the US without safety concerns, the JCVI is recommending that these vaccines should preferably be offered to pregnant women.
This is rather than the AstraZeneca vaccine, which hasn't been given in the US. Although there is no evidence to suggest it is unsafe to give to pregnant women, the JCVI says more research is needed. GOV.UK (2021)
At the same time, the government had also advised that people under 30 should be offered an alternative vaccine to the AstraZeneca vaccine because of the benefit to risk ration of that group. This is because of the reports that about four (non pregnant) people have experienced serious blood clots for every million doses of this vaccine.
Pregnancy can make you more liable to blood clots, so you should discuss with your healthcare professional whether the benefits of a vaccination outweigh the risks. MHRA (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 chose not to have the vaccine, you should still continue be given the same protections for at-risk groups, such as being allowed to work in a different place HIFN (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. This RCOG info sheet can also help you make an informed decision.
Page last reviewed: 29 July 2021
GOV.UK: JCVI issues new advice on Covid-19 vaccination for pregnant women https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jcvi-issues-new-advice-on-covid-19-v…
Book or manage you Covid-19 vaccination (NHS) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccinat…
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (updated 9 April 2021) https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/coronavirus-cov…
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy https://www.rcog.org.uk/covid-vaccine?fbclid=IwAR2cAkENwY5yAcLt4AsffsQV…
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (December 2020) https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/updated-advice-on-covid-19-vaccination-in-pregnancy-and-women-who-are-breastfeeding/
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…
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
Hospital Infant Feeding Network (January 2021) https://www.hifn.org/covid-interim