COVID19 vaccinations during pregnancy
Conception

COVID19 vaccinations during pregnancy, breastfeeding and during the search for pregnancy. What does WHO say?

WHO answers to women who are wondering if they can be vaccinated against COVID19 if they are pregnant or breastfeeding or are seeking or planning to become pregnant.

Many women are wondering if they can be vaccinated against COVID19 if they are pregnant or breastfeeding or if they are looking for or planning to become pregnant.

WHO has given clear answers through Soumya Swaminathan Yadav Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization.

Soumya Swaminathan Yadav is an Indian pediatrician and clinical scientist known for her research on tuberculosis and HIV. Since March 2019, she Swaminathan is Chief Scientist at WHO.

Should breastfeeding women get vaccinated?

Yes, the answer is yes. Women who have given birth and are breastfeeding their babies can get the vaccine, and should get vaccinated when it becomes available. There is no risk because all the vaccines that are currently used do not contain live virus. And therefore there is no risk of transmission through breast milk. In reality, the antibodies that the mother produces can pass through the breast milk to the baby and may protect the baby somewhat.

What can we say to pregnant women or women planning a pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a very special condition because we are concerned about the health of the mother, but also about the health of the fetus, the unborn child. Therefore any drug or vaccine given during pregnancy needs great attention to ensure that there are no potential safety issues or adverse events. In the case of COVID19, we know that pregnant women are at higher risk of contracting severe forms of COVID and also at higher risk of giving birth prematurely.

So, in situations where there is high transmission of COVID in the country and a woman is exposed to it, or if she is in a profession such as a healthcare worker or frontline worker where she is at particular risk of contracting the infection , the advantages of getting the vaccine definitely outweigh the risks; the platforms we have currently used for vaccines are the mRNA platform, inactivated viruses, or platforms with viral vectors or protein subunits.

None of them have a live virus that can multiply inside the body and could potentially create a problem. So, I think it’s important that pregnant women in every country are told the benefits and risks and offered the vaccine if they want to. And it’s probably the right thing to do in a lot of situations, as I said, where the pregnant woman is at a higher risk of getting the infection and where vaccines would be more beneficial.

Can women get vaccinated when they have their period?

There’s nothing scientific that can really stop a menstruating woman from getting the vaccine, other than that she might be feeling a little tired. But if this is the date you have a vaccine appointment and you happen to have your period, there is absolutely no problem going to your appointment and getting the vaccine.

There is a lot of misinformation about vaccines, fertility and infertility. Could you please explain what is scientific behind these fears?

Yes, it’s a common myth. And I should start by saying that there is absolutely no scientific evidence or truth behind the concern that vaccines interfere in any way with fertility , in both men and women. What vaccines do is stimulate an immune response against that particular protein or antigen of those viruses or bacteria. So, in this case, the COVID vaccine stimulates both an antibody response and a cell-mediated immune response against the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Hence, there is no way they could interfere with the functioning of the reproductive organs in either men or women. So, I think people can rest easy: these vaccines don’t interfere with fertility in any way.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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