COVID-19 vaccine: Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Get advice and read research about the COVID-19 vaccine if you're pregnant, breastfeeding or trying for a baby.

Last updated: 8 September 2022

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Pregnant

If you’re pregnant, you can get a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) at any stage of your pregnancy.

The Pfizer vaccine protects you as you’re far less likely to fall seriously ill. It also protects your pēpi as there is evidence that babies can get antibodies through the placenta that help protect them from COVID-19.

Being vaccinated also means you’re less likely to transmit the virus to others. It helps protect tamariki in your family who are too young to be vaccinated, and older whanāu members (such as grandparents) you’re spending time with.

Kia ora, so COVID-19 disease is very worrying for pregnant women, as we all know that you can get a lot sicker with COVID-19 when you're pregnant, higher risk of miscarriage and losing your baby.

So it's really good to know that COVID-19 vaccine is very effective in pregnant women, got lots of international data now showing that the vaccination works really well with pregnant women, It's got a really good safety profile.

I think importantly for us we know that it will stop us getting very sick or dying if we do get COVID-19 when we're pregnant. I guess the best news of all is that if you do get a vaccination when you're pregnant, that your immune response will give you antibodies that will be passed on to your baby.

So when your newborn baby comes they'll also have some protection against COVID-19.

So, many good reasons to go ahead and get the vaccination and it's great we've got a lot of data now to reassure ourselves that this is a good thing to do in pregnancy, kia ora.

To other hapu mama I say get your vaccination, just seeing all the overseas cases, yeah it was it was scary and it's a  reality check for a lot of us.

It's just that extra layer of protection for you, for baby, for the other medical staff that will be working  at that time. Also just knowing that when baby's born and I'm breastfeeding, he's  also going to be protected because who knows how long, you know, he'll have to wait before he can get his vaccination. So peace of mind, yeah, lots of peace of mind.

Boosters

It is recommended that pregnant people receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine to help protect them and their baby from the effects of COVID-19. The booster vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy.

Pregnant people should discuss the timing of their booster with their midwife, obstetrician, or general practitioner.

About boosters

Risks of COVID-19 during pregnancy

If you catch COVID-19 when you’re pregnant, you are more likely to become very unwell.

If you’re not vaccinated, you are more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit – particularly with the Delta variant.

There are also increased risks for babies. Babies are five times more likely to be born prematurely and require neonatal intensive care.

Vaccine safety

Millions of pregnant people have been vaccinated around the world.

Data shows no evidence that the vaccine is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage during pregnancy, and no additional safety concerns have been raised.

The Pfizer vaccine does not contain a live virus or any ingredients that are harmful to pregnant people or their babies.

Research and data

  1. The impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy
  2. COVID-19 vaccination coverage among pregnant women
  3. Pregnancy and neonatal outcomes of COVID-19 – a study from the UK and US
  4. mRNA COVID-19 vaccine safety in pregnancy – a US study
  5. The vaccine and risk of miscarriage - a study from the US
  6. Side effects following vaccination – data from Medsafe

Breastfeeding

If you’re breastfeeding, you can get a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) at any time.

Studies show there are no additional safety concerns or issues with continuing to breastfeed after vaccination.

Breastfeeding supports the development of a healthy immune system, and if you’re vaccinated against COVID-19, there is evidence that you can provide extra protection for your pēpi through antibodies in your breastmilk.

Research and data

  1. Antibodies in breast milk after COVID-19 vaccination – research from a study in Israel
  2. Effects of COVID-19 vaccination on breastfeeding mothers and their babies – research from the US

Trying for a baby

If you’re planning a pregnancy, you can get the Pfizer vaccine at any time.

The Pfizer vaccine will not affect your genes or fertility.

The mRNA from the vaccine does not enter the nucleus of any cells, which is where your DNA is.

English

The Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA vaccine that protects us against COVID-19.

How does it work? Let’s start by looking at the coronavirus.

This is the virus that causes COVID-19.

The virus uses the spikes on its surface to enter our cells.

The spikes of the virus also help our body to identify the virus as an intruder.

The vaccine works by showing our body the spike protein, so our immune system can prepare to quickly spot and attack the virus.

To create the vaccine, scientists created mRNA (or messenger RNA) that contains the recipe for building the spike protein.

This acts as a messenger carrying instructions to our cells.

When we get the vaccine, the mRNA instructs our cells to build copies of the spike protein. They only build the spike protein, not the whole virus.

As our bodies build these copies, our immune systems kick in and create antibodies to fight off the intruders.

We get two doses of the vaccine because the first dose starts to build our immune response and the second dose acts as a booster so our immune system can remember and mount a stronger response when it encounters the virus.

Once the immune system is primed, it will remember the virus for months or even years. If we encounter the virus in the future, the immune system will launch an antibody attack immediately.

Nothing is left behind from the vaccine (our body breaks down the mRNA) and there is no possibility of the vaccine affecting our body’s DNA.

Te reo Māori

He rongoā ārai mate mRNA te rongoā ārai mate Pfizer ka tiaki i a tātou i te Kowheori-19.

He pēhea tana mahi? Me tīmata tātou i te tirotiro ki te mate korona.

E ahu mai ana te KOWHEORI-19 i tēnei huaketo. Ka whakamahi te huaketo i ngā tara o tōna mata ki te kōkuhu atu ki ō tātou pūtau.

Mā ngā tara o te huaketo e āwhina hoki tō tātou tīnana ki te tautohu i te huaketo hei kaiwhakaeke. Ka mahi te rongoā ārai mate mā te whakaatu ki tō tātou tinana te pūmua o te tara (pūmua tara), kia pai ai te whakariterite o tō tātou pūnaha awhikiri ki te tautohu me te patu tere i te huaketo.

Hei waihanga i te rongoā ārai mate, i waihangaia e ngā kaimātai pūtaiao te mRNA (arā, he messenger RNA) he mea pupuri tohutohu mō te hanga i te pūmua tara.

Ka noho tēnei hei kaikarere e kawe tohutohu ana ki ō tātou pūtau.

Kia whiwhi tātou i te rongoā ārai mate, ko tā te mRNA he tohutohu i ō tātou pūtau ki te hanga tārua o te pūmua tara.

Ka hanga ērā i te pūmua tara anake, kaua te katoa o te huaketo.

Nō te hanganga o ēnei tārua i ō tātou tinana, ka whana mai ō tātou pūnaha awhikiri ki te waihanga paturopi hei whawhai i ngā kaiwhakaeke.

Ka whiwhi tātou e rua ngā tukunga o te rongoā ārai mate nā te mea, ko tā te tukunga tuatahi he tīmata noa iho ki te whakapakari i tō tātou ahwikiri ārai mate, ā, ko te tukunga tuarua hei whakakaha ake kia mahara ai tō tātou pūnaha awhikiri me kaha tonu tana urupare i te tūtākinga ki te huaketo.

Kia rite mai te pūnaha awhikiri, e kore e wareware te huaketo mō ētahi marama, ētahi tau rawa rānei.

Ki te tūtaki tātou ki te huaketo hei ngā rā e tū mai nei, ka tere tonu te huaki ā-paturopi a te pūnaha awhikir.

Kāore e whakarērea he paku aha i te rongoā ārai mate (ka whakapopo tō tātou tinana i te mRNA) nō reira e kore rawa e pāngia te pītau ira o tō tātou tinana e te rongoā ārai mate.

English

The Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA vaccine that protects us against COVID-19.

How does it work? Let’s start by looking at the coronavirus.

This is the virus that causes COVID-19.

The virus uses the spikes on its surface to enter our cells.

The spikes of the virus also help our body to identify the virus as an intruder.

The vaccine works by showing our body the spike protein, so our immune system can prepare to quickly spot and attack the virus.

To create the vaccine, scientists created mRNA (or messenger RNA) that contains the recipe for building the spike protein.

This acts as a messenger carrying instructions to our cells.

When we get the vaccine, the mRNA instructs our cells to build copies of the spike protein. They only build the spike protein, not the whole virus.

As our bodies build these copies, our immune systems kick in and create antibodies to fight off the intruders.

We get two doses of the vaccine because the first dose starts to build our immune response and the second dose acts as a booster so our immune system can remember and mount a stronger response when it encounters the virus.

Once the immune system is primed, it will remember the virus for months or even years. If we encounter the virus in the future, the immune system will launch an antibody attack immediately.

Nothing is left behind from the vaccine (our body breaks down the mRNA) and there is no possibility of the vaccine affecting our body’s DNA.

Te reo Māori

He rongoā ārai mate mRNA te rongoā ārai mate Pfizer ka tiaki i a tātou i te Kowheori-19.

He pēhea tana mahi? Me tīmata tātou i te tirotiro ki te mate korona.

E ahu mai ana te KOWHEORI-19 i tēnei huaketo. Ka whakamahi te huaketo i ngā tara o tōna mata ki te kōkuhu atu ki ō tātou pūtau.

Mā ngā tara o te huaketo e āwhina hoki tō tātou tīnana ki te tautohu i te huaketo hei kaiwhakaeke. Ka mahi te rongoā ārai mate mā te whakaatu ki tō tātou tinana te pūmua o te tara (pūmua tara), kia pai ai te whakariterite o tō tātou pūnaha awhikiri ki te tautohu me te patu tere i te huaketo.

Hei waihanga i te rongoā ārai mate, i waihangaia e ngā kaimātai pūtaiao te mRNA (arā, he messenger RNA) he mea pupuri tohutohu mō te hanga i te pūmua tara.

Ka noho tēnei hei kaikarere e kawe tohutohu ana ki ō tātou pūtau.

Kia whiwhi tātou i te rongoā ārai mate, ko tā te mRNA he tohutohu i ō tātou pūtau ki te hanga tārua o te pūmua tara.

Ka hanga ērā i te pūmua tara anake, kaua te katoa o te huaketo.

Nō te hanganga o ēnei tārua i ō tātou tinana, ka whana mai ō tātou pūnaha awhikiri ki te waihanga paturopi hei whawhai i ngā kaiwhakaeke.

Ka whiwhi tātou e rua ngā tukunga o te rongoā ārai mate nā te mea, ko tā te tukunga tuatahi he tīmata noa iho ki te whakapakari i tō tātou ahwikiri ārai mate, ā, ko te tukunga tuarua hei whakakaha ake kia mahara ai tō tātou pūnaha awhikiri me kaha tonu tana urupare i te tūtākinga ki te huaketo.

Kia rite mai te pūnaha awhikiri, e kore e wareware te huaketo mō ētahi marama, ētahi tau rawa rānei.

Ki te tūtaki tātou ki te huaketo hei ngā rā e tū mai nei, ka tere tonu te huaki ā-paturopi a te pūnaha awhikir.

Kāore e whakarērea he paku aha i te rongoā ārai mate (ka whakapopo tō tātou tinana i te mRNA) nō reira e kore rawa e pāngia te pītau ira o tō tātou tinana e te rongoā ārai mate.

IMAC – COVID-19 vaccines and fertility


Novavax vaccine

There is insufficient data on the use of Novavax in pregnant people, so Pfizer remains the preferred choice of vaccine for this group.

 

Ask an expert pregnancy livestream

The session was moderated by TV3’s Kanoa Lloyd (a new mum), who was joined by Obstetrician and Gynaecologists Dr Kara Okesene-Gafa and Dr Michelle Wise, Chief Midwife Christine Mallon and IMAC educator, and nurse Bronwyn Robinson.

Discussions include:

  • whether the vaccine is safe for pregnant people
  • the risks of waiting until after your baby is born
  • whether the vaccine gets into the baby
  • and whether the vaccine affects your menstrual cycle or fertility.

 

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