Pregnancy, breastfeeding and the coronavirus vaccine

Coronavirus and pregnancy

The risk to pregnant women and newborn babies following coronavirus infection is generally low. However, pregnant women are more likely to have severe coronavirus (COVID-19) 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

If you’re pregnant and get coronavirus with symptoms, it is two to three times more likely that your baby will be born prematurely.

Coronavirus vaccines and pregnancy

As with most medicines and vaccines, large clinical trials of the coronavirus vaccines in pregnancy have not been carried out. However, the available data do not indicate any harm to pregnancy.

The coronavirus vaccines available in the UK have been shown to be effective and safe. You and your unborn baby cannot catch coronavirus from the vaccines.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that all pregnant women should be offered the coronavirus vaccine at the same time as people of the same age or risk group. This means you could be invited to have the coronavirus vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy, depending on when you become eligible. The coronavirus vaccine can be given at any stage during pregnancy.

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

If you have further questions, please speak to your clinician.

The coronavirus vaccine will be given in two doses. The coronavirus Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are the preferred vaccines for pregnant women of any age, because of more extensive use in pregnancy.

Pregnant women who received a first dose of the coronavirus AstraZeneca vaccine are advised to complete the course with the same vaccine.

The second dose completes the course and is likely to be important for longer-term protection. It is important to get both doses to protect yourself against coronavirus.

If you find out you are pregnant after you’ve received your first dose of the coronavirus vaccine you can choose to:

  • get your second dose using the same coronavirus vaccine during your pregnancy (unless there is a medical reason for you not to have the same vaccine)
  • wait to get your second dose of the coronavirus vaccine after your pregnancy

There is no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus vaccines will affect fertility in women or men. You do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving the coronavirus vaccination.

Breastfeeding advice

The benefits of breastfeeding are well known, and the coronavirus vaccines are not thought to be a risk when breastfeeding.

In line with recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that any suitable coronavirus vaccine can be given to women who are breastfeeding.

The vaccine you will be offered will be clinically appropriate for you and will follow JCVI recommendations.

If you are breastfeeding, or planning to breastfeed, you can continue breastfeeding after vaccination.

Clinical trials on the use of coronavirus vaccines while breastfeeding are not advanced. However, the available data do not indicate any harm to the breastfed infant.

Further information

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

You should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with your clinician.

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