How do the COVID-19 vaccines impact pregnancy, fertility, and breast/chest-feeding? Here’s what we know so far.

Cross-posted from Public Health Insider

Ask Miss Rona is a Q&A series started on Public Health’s Instagram to respond to community questions related to different topic areas of COVID-19. Questions come in from the public and are answered by subject matter experts at Public Health. Check out Public Health’s Instagram at @kcpubhealth for more Miss Rona content.

For this week’s Miss Rona, two experts from Public Health answered the community’s questions related to all things reproductive health:

Andie Lyons is a Family Planning Health Educator at Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Debra Berliner is an Immunization Health Educator at Public Health – Seattle & King County.


Why would the vaccine be safe for my baby if it’s not safe for children under 12?

There’s no data indicating that COVID vaccines aren’t safe for kids under age 12. 

Here’s what we know:

1. COVID vaccines are not currently approved for children younger than 12 and clinical trials are underway for this age group. Safety is a top priority, and trials involving kids will get extra scrutiny. COVID vaccines may be authorized for younger kids as early as this fall.

2. COVID vaccines don’t contain live virus, so being vaccinated doesn’t pose a risk to a baby during pregnancy or through chest and breastfeeding.

3. Research is showing that babies may gain some immunity to COVID-19 through chest and breastfeeding! That’s likely because the antibodies the parent makes after vaccination pass into breastmilk. In other words, the parent’s body does the work of developing an immune response to the vaccine, and the baby just gets the benefits – antibodies that fight off infection!

Does the vaccine affect my birth control pill? 

No. 

None of the COVID-19 vaccines will affect how any birth control method (like pills) works. Your birth control will be just as effective, and your birth control won’t impact how well the vaccine works either. 

Some hormonal birth control methods are linked to a small increased risk of blood clots, which is different from the type of blood clot syndrome related to the J&J vaccine. Hormonal birth control should not affect your risk of blood clots after getting the J&J vaccine. 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has some great answers about COVID vaccines and reproductive health, which can be found at bit.ly/covid-obgyn.

If I’m breast/chest-feeding, how will the vaccine impact my newborn?

There is some very promising research showing that milk from fully vaccinated people who are breast or chest feeding contains antibodies to COVID-19! 

This means that breast/chestfed babies may gain some immunity from human milk, though more studies are needed to know exactly how much protection these antibodies might provide to babies. 

If you’re interested in reading these early studies, they can be found at bit.ly/antibodies-milk.

Have there been any studies on how the vaccine impacts menstrual cycles (length, intensity, etc)? 

It’s harder to study menstrual irregularities in vaccinated people.

That’s because so many factors affect menstrual cycles, like:

  • stress
  • infections
  • changes in your schedule
  • sleep
  • weight
  • diet
  • exercise

And it’s normal for cycle length to vary over time. 

However, changes in menstrual periods or vaginal bleeding were not reported in the large-scale clinical trials of the vaccines approved for use in the U.S. Though no studies have been published on this subject, researchers are currently exploring the connection between vaccination and menstruation and we will share information as it becomes available. 

We do know for certain that your menstrual cycle cannot be affected by being near someone who received a COVID-19 vaccine.  Additionally, all evidence to date indicates that COVID-19 vaccination does not affect fertility or future pregnancies.

If you’ve got concerns about your menstrual cycle, talk with your gynecologist or your primary care provider. Your doctor knows your medical history and can help sort out what might be going on.

My friends and family are not getting vaccinated bc of fertility concerns. Is this valid? 

It’s always good to ask questions about the vaccine’s effects on long-term health. 

Your friends and family can rest assured: 

While fertility wasn’t specifically studied in the vaccine clinical trials, no loss of fertility has been reported among trial participants or among the millions of people who’ve been vaccinated. 

People actively trying to conceive or hoping to conceive in the future can be vaccinated.

There’s no known reason to delay pregnancy after completing the vaccine series. If you’d like a more detailed explanation about why COVID vaccination doesn’t affect fertility, check out this video from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia or visit their webpage, Reproductive Health and COVID-19 Vaccines.

Is the vaccine linked to miscarriages?

No, there is no evidence linking COVID-19 vaccines with miscarriages. 

Between 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and two studies that looked at vaccinations in pregnant people have not found any increase in miscarriage among those who have been vaccinated. 

Read more on these studies in Obstetrics & Gynecology and the New England Journal of Medicine.

How confident are you all about the safety of the vaccine for pregnant folks?

Based on everything we know at this point, we’re confident that vaccines are safe for pregnant folks.

Pregnant and lactating people weren’t specifically studied in the COVID-19 vaccine trials. But we’ve gathered a ton of information since those trials began from people who’ve been vaccinated. 

Here’s what we know:

  • side effects in pregnant people are similar to non-pregnant people, and we have reassuring information about pregnancy outcomes. 
  • Rates of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, congenital anomalies, and neonatal death are similar in vaccinated people compared to the general population. 

As with all vaccines, scientists are continuously studying COVID-19 vaccines for side effects and will report any findings as they become available. Ultimately, vaccination is a personal choice. 

If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider. You can also visit MotherToBaby or call 1-866-626-6847 for expert information about medications and other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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