Can I Get Pregnant After Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Reviewed on 4/11/2022
Can I get pregnant after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems in women or men, which means it is possible to get pregnant after getting vaccinated.

There is currently no evidence that any of the COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems in women or men and it is possible to get pregnant after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine

Studies have found no differences in pregnancy success rates among women who had antibodies from COVID-19 vaccines or from a recent COVID-19 infection and women who had no antibodies, including for patients who used assisted reproductive technology procedures (e.g., in vitro fertilization). One study of more than 2,000 females aged 21-45 years and their partners found COVID-19 vaccination of either partner did not affect the likelihood of becoming pregnant.

The CDC recommends people trying to get pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners, get vaccinated and stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, including a COVID-19 booster shot.

The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines such as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty) and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (Spikevax) are preferred over the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine for all vaccine-eligible individuals for primary series, primary additional doses (for immunocompromised persons), and booster vaccination.

All three of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. are highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

What Are the Risks of Getting COVID-19 While Pregnant?

Getting infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 during pregnancy can result in severe illness for the mother and an increased risk of pregnancy complications. 

Both pregnancy and COVID-19 increase the risk of developing blood clotting problems. Pregnant or recently pregnant people are more likely to become severely ill from COVID-19 compared to people who are not pregnant. Severe illness from COVID-19 can be fatal. 

Severe illness with COVID-19 may necessitate:

  • Hospitalization
  • Admission into an intensive care unit (ICU)
  • A ventilator or special equipment to help them breathe

COVID-19 is also associated with an increased risk for pregnancy complications, and an increased risk of: 

  • Delivering a preterm (earlier than 37 weeks) baby
  • Stillbirth
  • Needing a cesarean delivery
  • Serious illness from hypertensive disorders of pregnancy
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Infections other than SARS-COV-2
  • Loss of pregnancy 
  • Maternal death around the time of birth
  • The infant dying during the newborn period

Mild or asymptomatic infection was not associated with increased pregnancy risks.

How Do Vaccines and Boosters Work?

Vaccines help the body produce immunity to infection by imitating the infecting agent. Vaccines rarely cause serious illness but instead boost the body’s adaptive immune function to produce T-lymphocytes and antibodies (parts of the immune system that help the body fight germs). Once the simulated infection created by the vaccine goes away, the body has a “memory” of T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that remember how to fight that infection in the future.

Following immunization, it can take several weeks for the body to produce the produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes needed to fight infection, so it is possible a person could become infected with COVID just before or just after vaccination because the body has not yet had time to build its defenses. 

The first set of vaccinations helps train the body’s immune system to recognize the virus and fight off the infection. The booster shot helps strengthen or prolong that immune response.

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What Are the Side Effects of the COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters?

After the COVID-19 vaccine is administered and the body is building its defenses, people may experience mild side effects starting a day or two after receiving the vaccine that can last a few days. This is normal and expected and a sign the body’s immune system is responding as it should. 

People may also experience similar side effects when receiving the COVID-19 vaccines booster shot. 

Common side effects and reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters include:

Rarely, severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, can occur after receiving any vaccine. This type of reaction has only occurred in about 2 to 5 people per million vaccinated in the U.S. These kinds of allergic reactions usually occur within 30 minutes after vaccination and can be immediately and effectively treated. People who are allergic to specific ingredients in the current vaccines are advised to avoid that particular vaccine. Those prone to allergic reactions, but who do not have a known allergy to a component of the vaccine, are advised to receive the vaccine in a healthcare facility and to wait 30 minutes (instead of 15) following an injection. 

There is a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in place for patients to report unexpected vaccine side effects. https://vaers.hhs.gov/

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Reviewed on 4/11/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p1021-covid-booster.html

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/understanding-vaccine-boosters.html

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-takes-additional-actions-use-booster-dose-covid-19-vaccines

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/planning-for-pregnancy.html

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-funded-study-suggests-covid-19-increases-risk-pregnancy-complications

https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-advisory/articles/2020/12/covid-19-vaccination-considerations-for-obstetric-gynecologic-care?utm_source=redirect&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=int