People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should get a COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. In the new COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, the CDC explains that there’s no evidence that the shots can cause pregnancy or fertility issues.
Pretty much everyone who is at least 12 years old should get a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC guidelines say. And that now includes people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, actively trying to become pregnant, or might become pregnant in the future.
Because pregnant and breastfeeding people were intentionally not included in the original COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, it was hard for public health experts to make recommendations about whether or not those groups of people should get the shots. Some groups, including the World Health Organization (WHO), recommended caution until more data became available. But knowing that pregnant people have an elevated risk for severe COVID-19 complications (including negative effects on birth, such as preterm birth), other groups encouraged those people to consider getting vaccinated anyway depending on their individual risk factors.
Now the CDC says it has enough data to make a larger recommendation. The CDC “encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19,” said Rochelle Walensky, M.D., MPH, director of the CDC, said in a press release. “The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people.”
These guidelines come just after two major reproductive health groups announced that they, too, had seen enough evidence to make the same recommendation. At the end of July, those groups—the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM)—updated their stance to “strongly recommend” that pregnant and breastfeeding people get vaccinated.
Data from animal studies and real-world monitoring of pregnant and breastfeeding people who received the vaccines, as well as information about the way the vaccines work in the body, all support the idea that the shots are safe for these groups of people, the CDC says. In fact, some research suggests that getting the vaccines during pregnancy may pass along some protection to the baby. As the delta variant continues to spread in the U.S., it’s crucial for anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated to actually get the shots—to protect themselves and their families.