Pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccine a matter of personal choice

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that you can receive the COVID-19 vaccines now being offered.

If you have questions, the CDC recommends that you talk it over with your healthcare provider.

So what are OB/GYNs saying?

"Right now, we don't have safety data on the COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy or breastfeeding," says Jonathan Scrafford, MD, an OB/GYN with Ascension Medical Group Via Christi. "So each patient needs to consider the potential risk of the virus vs. the potential risk of the vaccine."

However, Dr. Scrafford says he believes that as time goes on that it's more likely that the demonstrated risk of the virus will be greater than that of the vaccines.

"That's primarily based on historical data that we have on other viruses and vaccines on the risk to pregnant and breastfeeding women," he says, noting that he recommends that his patients receive the vaccine as it becomes available, as the risk of infection to pregnancy likely outweighs the risk of vaccination to pregnancy. "However, I fully support and would consider a pregnant woman reasonable who elects not to receive it on the basis of a lack of safety data."

Something else women may want to take into consideration when making their decision is the potential risk to others in their household or with whom they have frequent contact should they contract the virus.

"It's a risk-benefit analysis that's best left up to each woman, considering the well-being of herself, her family, and her community," Dr. Scrafford says.

Concerns have also been expressed by women of child-bearing age who are worried that the vaccine might cause fertility issues.

Because fertility is defined as going six to 12 months without being able to achieve pregnancy, and populations have only been widely vaccinated in the last couple months, it is too early to draw a data-based conclusion as to any potential impact on fertility, Dr. Scrafford says.

"Theoretically, any new thing could cause infertility," he says. "But if historical data is any indicator, it's not likely to have an impact."