The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) updated their advice on 16 April 2021 for women planning to conceive or already pregnant.
Here are the key messages:
- All pregnant women should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, in line with the age group roll out. The decision whether to have the vaccination in pregnancy is your choice
- Vaccination is effective in preventing COVID-19 infection or reducing the severity of the disease.
- Women do not need a pregnancy test before vaccination.
- Women planning to conceive, with or without fertility treatment, do not need to delay pregnancy after vaccination. If you are planning to start fertility treatment, we advise delaying this by 1-2 weeks after the first vaccine dose simply because some patients experience side effects such as tiredness and we feel it is better to recover fully before you start any treatment.
- COVID-19 infection can affect the pregnancy, especially in late pregnancy where infection with COVID-19 has been shown increase the risk of premature delivery by 2 or 3 times. Premature delivery can affect a baby’s short and long term health.
- All pregnant women in the UK are now offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines, where available as blood clotting risk increases in pregnancy and these have no impact on blood clotting. The Astra-Zeneca vaccine has been found to cause an increased risk of blood clots in a very small number of cases and is therefore not advised in pregnancy.
- Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines have been given to over 100,000 pregnant women in the United States and the data have not raised any safety concerns.
- If you are planning fertility treatment and you are offered the vaccine, we advise that you ask for the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines if available so that you can have the same vaccine for your second dose when you conceive.
- There is no evidence that having the vaccine in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy could have an adverse effect on the pregnancy. If you are offered the vaccine before conceiving, you will be offered the opportunity of having your second dose of vaccine within the normal 12 week time frame.
- If you are eligible for, and have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine, the decision whether to have the vaccination in pregnancy is your choice.
- The risks and benefits of vaccination is always assessed on an individualised basis and you will be involved in that discussion. This may include factors such as your ethnicity, whether you are overweight or obese, any underlying health conditions you may have as well as occupational exposure and ability to socially distance at work.