Pregnancy, breastfeeding and the coronavirus vaccine

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is strongly recommended in pregnancy.

If you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you can get your first or second dose by:

Find out how to book a booster dose.

Pregnant women are at increased risk from coronavirus. Some pregnant women have become seriously unwell and needed hospital treatment. Pregnant women with coronavirus have a higher risk of being admitted to intensive care than women of the same age who are not pregnant.

If you get coronavirus with symptoms in pregnancy it's 3 times more likely that your baby will be born early.

Pregnant women are more likely to have severe coronavirus infection if they:

  • have underlying health conditions (for example diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma)
  • are overweight
  • are of Black and Asian Minority Ethnic background
  • are aged 35 years or over

Public Health Scotland data shows that 98% of pregnant women with coronavirus who required intensive care in Scotland were unvaccinated.

The coronavirus vaccine and pregnancy

The coronavirus vaccine is strongly recommended in pregnancy. Vaccination is the best way to protect pregnant women and their babies against the known risks of coronavirus in pregnancy. You and your unborn baby cannot catch coronavirus from the vaccine.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that pregnant women of any age should be prioritised as a clinical risk group for coronavirus vaccination.

It's important that pregnant women get all the recommended doses of the coronavirus vaccine as soon as possible. The vaccine can be given at any stage during pregnancy.

Please read information about coronavirus vaccination from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists before attending your appointment.

Is the vaccine safe in pregnancy?

The coronavirus vaccines available in the UK have been shown to be safe and effective. Evidence shows there are no pregnancy-related safety concerns following coronavirus vaccination in pregnancy.

More than 275,000 pregnant women in the UK and USA from diverse ethnic backgrounds have received either a Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccine, with no evidence of harm being identified.

How many doses will I be offered?

Pregnant women are eligible for 2 doses of the coronavirus vaccine, followed by a booster dose.

The JCVI recommends a gap of 8 weeks between first and second doses. The booster dose can be given at least 12 weeks after your second dose.

People with a severely weakened immune system are also eligible for a third primary dose followed by a booster dose.

Having all the recommended doses of the vaccine is important for longer-term protection against coronavirus.

What vaccine will I be offered?

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines are the preferred vaccines for pregnant women, because of more extensive use in pregnancy.

If you are under 18 you will only be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Pregnant women who received a first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine can receive any coronavirus vaccine for their second dose.

How can I get the vaccine?

You can get the coronavirus vaccine by:

It’s also important to get the booster dose. You can find out how to book an appointment for your booster.

Breastfeeding advice

If you're breastfeeding, or planning to breastfeed, you can get the coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine you'll be offered will be clinically appropriate for you, and will follow JCVI recommendations.

The benefits of breastfeeding are well known, and the coronavirus vaccine can safely be given to women who are breastfeeding. The antibodies you make following vaccination can pass into your breastmilk. These may give your baby some protection against coronavirus.

You should not stop breastfeeding to be vaccinated against coronavirus. You can continue breastfeeding as normal after vaccination.

The coronavirus vaccine and fertility

There's no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus vaccine will affect fertility in women or men. If you are thinking of getting pregnant, the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your baby against the known risks of coronavirus in pregnancy.

You do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving the coronavirus vaccination.

Fertility treatment

The British Fertility Society recommend that you do not need to delay your fertility treatment after having a coronavirus vaccine. You may decide to delay your fertility treatment if you wanted to be protected against coronavirus before you were pregnant.

The chance of successful treatment is unlikely to be affected by a short delay, for example of up to 6 months, particularly if you are 37 years of age or younger. However, delays of several months may affect your chance of success once you are over 37 and especially if you are aged 40 or older.

You may wish to consider the timing of having a coronavirus vaccine during your fertility treatment, taking into account that some people may get side effects in the few days after vaccination that they do not want to have during treatment. These include tenderness at the injection site, fever, headache, muscle ache or feeling tired.

It may be sensible to separate the date of vaccination by a few days from some treatment procedures (for example, egg collection in IVF), so that any symptoms, such as fever, might be attributed correctly to the vaccine or the treatment procedure. Your medical team will be able to advise you about the best time for your situation.

Other vaccines during pregnancy

Whooping cough vaccine

Getting the whooping cough vaccine is the most effective way to help protect your baby from whooping cough in the first weeks of their life.

The whooping cough vaccine is recommended as soon as possible from week 16 of your pregnancy. The ideal time to have the vaccine is between weeks 16 and 32, but the sooner you get the vaccine the better.

Find out more about the whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy

Flu vaccine

If you’re pregnant during the flu season (October to March) then you should have the flu vaccine as early as you can during pregnancy.

The vaccine helps protect you and your developing baby against flu during your pregnancy and for at least three months after birth.

Find out more about the flu vaccine in pregnancy

Further information

Make sure you know as much as you can about the coronavirus vaccines and the risk of coronavirus in pregnancy.

If you have any questions about the risks and benefits of vaccination you should discuss these with your clinician.

Further information is available in the Public Health Scotland information leaflet and from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.