COVID-19 vaccines are safe if you are, or plan to become, pregnant

You can safely get the covid 19 vaccine before becoming pregnant or in any trimester of pregnancy.

Getting the covid 19 vaccine while you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive is safe and highly recommended by:

  • the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health (PCMCH)
  • Ontario Society of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (OSOG)
  • the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC)
  • National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI)
  • many other national and international organizations

Several studies have demonstrated that vaccination in pregnancy has no impact on:

  • pregnancy outcomes (including miscarriage, premature birth, fetal growth restriction and high blood pressure during pregnancy)
  • medical complications of pregnancy
  • maternal death

The benefits of getting vaccinated to prevent potential complications in pregnancy far outweigh the risks. Not only will the vaccine protect you from covid 19 infection, it will reduce the risk of severe illness and complications related to covid 19 infections in pregnancy. And, studies suggest the antibodies your body develops following vaccination will pass to your baby, which may keep them safe after birth.

Risks related to COVID-19 in pregnancy

covid 19 infection in pregnancy increases the risk of medical complications and death.

Pregnant women who contract covid 19 are footnote 1 :

  • five times more likely to be hospitalized and spend 3.73 days longer in hospital
  • ten times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU)
  • more likely to suffer from severe illness
  • more likely to require ventilation/life support breathing

In addition, covid 19 infection in pregnancy significantly increases the risk of:

  • stillbirth
  • premature birth
  • high blood pressure
  • caesarean delivery
  • low birth weight

There is also an increased risk that the baby will need to be admitted to neonatal intensive care.

If you want to, or are breastfeeding

It is safe to get the covid 19 vaccine while breastfeeding, and there is no need to stop or delay breastfeeding after getting vaccinated.

The covid 19 vaccine will provide strong protection against covid 19 and help prevent you from passing it to your baby and other family members, too.

If you get vaccinated while breastfeeding, the vaccine itself will not transfer into breastmilk, but studies suggest that the antibodies you produce following vaccination will, which may protect them from covid 19.

COVID-19 vaccines and fertility

covid 19 vaccines do not cause male or female infertility and there is no evidence to suggest that they will cause infertility.

In fact, getting both doses of the covid 19 vaccine before you conceive will protect you and your future baby from the risk of covid 19 in pregnancy.

The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19

You cannot get covid 19 or any other infectious disease from the vaccine because there is no live virus in the vaccine.

It is important to remember that it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. So, it is possible to become infected with covid 19 just before or just after vaccination. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time for your immune response to make the antibodies to fight the virus if you come in contact with it.

Even if you receive the vaccine, please continue to follow the public health measures to keep you, your loved ones and your community safe.

Vaccine side effects

Similar to medications and other vaccines, the covid 19 vaccines can cause side effects. Most side effects are mild and resolve within a few days after vaccination. They may include:

  • soreness at the injection site on your arm
  • tiredness
  • chills
  • a mild headache

These types of side effects are expected and simply mean the vaccine is working to produce protection.

Serious side effects and allergic reactions are extremely rare. Please seek medical attention right away or call 911 if any of the following reactions develop within three days of receiving the vaccine:

  • hives – swelling of the face, throat or mouth
  • trouble breathing
  • serious drowsiness
  • high fever (over 40°C or 104°F)
  • convulsions or seizures
  • other serious symptoms (for example, “pins and needles” or numbness)

Contracting COVID-19 after getting vaccinated

As with other immunizations, you can’t fully eliminate the risk of infection, especially with the ongoing community transmission of covid 19.

However, getting vaccinated will reduce your risk of developing covid 19, make your symptoms milder if you do get it and is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your baby and those around you from serious illness due to covid 19.

Get the vaccine if you’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered

If you’ve already contracted covid 19 and recovered, you should still get vaccinated. Even if you’ve recovered from covid 19, you are not immune and can still get the virus. You can also be contagious while not showing any symptoms and spread it to members of your family and others in your community.

Get more information

Speak to your health care provider if you have questions or would like to discuss if covid 19 vaccination is right for you.

You can also contact:

  • The Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre to speak to an experienced agent or health specialist at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007), available 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in more than 300 languages.
  • The VaxFacts Clinic to speak with a qualified Scarborough Health Network doctor: www.shn.ca/vaxfacts or 416-438-2911 ext. 5738

Footnotes

Updated: October 25, 2021
Published: October 25, 2021