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State of California—Health and Human Services Agency
California Department of Public Health

June 19, 2023

All Californians

Guidance for Vaccination During Pregnancy

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This Guidance is no longer in effect and is for historical purposes only. For more information on vaccine and pregnancy guidance, see the COVID-19 Vaccine and Pregnancy ​ (PDF)

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the CDC​, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend COVID-19 vaccination for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. ​

You may have questions about vaccines and pregnancy, which is normal. We answer many common questions below.  However, you can also talk to your healthcare provider to help you decide whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine and consider reviewing this CDC webpage for more information.  

Questions and Answers

Is it safe to get vaccinated during pregnancy?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccination before, during and after pregnancy is safe and effective, and COVID-19 vaccines do not cause fertility problems.  

If you are pregnant or lactating, you can choose to get either an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine. You should also receive an updated bivalent mRNA vaccine and boosters when eligible. 

​​These vaccines use a small, harmless piece of the virus that triggers an immune response b​ut cannot make you sick. If you are exposed to COVID-19 after vaccination, your immune system will recognize the virus and make antibodies to protect you and your baby against COVID-19. 

Experts and many large studies of tens of thousands of people show that vaccination of pregnant or breastfeeding people is safe for them and their babies. 

You are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 if you are pregnant. COVID-19 infection also increases the risk of a preterm or stillborn delivery.  

Do COVID-19 vaccines​​ work?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccines provide protection against COVID-19. The vaccine works by triggering an immune response causing your body to produce protective antibodies, which also pass to the baby in the womb. Completing a two-dose primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series and staying up-to date on vaccinations during pregnancy can help protect babies younger than age 6 months from hospitalization due to COVID-19. 

Does the vaccine protect my baby?

Yes, when you receive COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy, you build antibodies against COVID-19 which are passed to your baby in the womb. This protects your baby against COVID-19 from day one and usually for several months. This is important during a time when babies are too young to get vaccinated and are more likely to be very sick if infected with Covid-19 or other respiratory infection

What are the long-term effects on my baby if I get the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy?

The COVID-19 vaccine safely protects you and your baby against COVID-19 with no long-term effects. The vaccine cannot infect you or your baby with COVID-19, as the COVID-19 vaccines provided in the U.S. do not use live virus that causes COVID-19.

What if I have other health conditions or have a weakened immune system?

You may have other health conditions in addition to pregnancy that put you at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, flu, or other respiratory infections. Consult with your healthcare provider if you have additional concerns about getting vaccinated and staying up-to-date to protect you and your pregnancy.

How can I prevent getting COVID-19? Can COVID-19 be more serious if I'm pregnant?

If you are pregnant or recently pregnant you are more likely to get very sick with COVID-19, including being hospitalized, being in the intensive care unit (ICU), or having to use a ventilator or special equipment to breathe.  

You are also at increased risk of pre-term birth (delivering a baby before 37 weeks), stillbirth, neonatal ICU admission, and fetal distress. ​​​

  • Consider wearing a face mask​ when you are in indoor public settings, even if you are vaccinated when many in the community may currently have COVID-19 or other respiratory infections and be infectious to others. Also refer to your local health department for local data. ​

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. 

  • Take care of your body to maintain good health. Remember to eat healthy foods, exercise daily and get plenty of sleep. 

  • Make time to relax with activities you enjoy at home. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. 

  • Connect with others.Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. 

  • Stay up to date:  recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding people stay up to date with their COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.  

What more should I know about getting the COVID-19 vccine during pregnacy?

  • You may have side effects after va​​ccination, such as body aches, chills, and tiredness. These are normal for everyone, and they are temporary. For more information, CDC Vaccines while Pregnant or Breastfeeding. 

  • Consult your healthcare provider if you have a fever during pregnancy, for any reason. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is recommended and safe for most pregnant people who experience fever.  

  • If you have a history of severe allergic reactions​ to any vaccine or injectable medicine, talk to your healthcare provider before getting vaccinated. 

  • You should not be denied COVID-19 vaccine because you are pregnant. 

  • If you are pregnant, you should also get the whooping cough (Tdap) vaccine at 27-36 weeks of pregnancy and influenza (flu) vaccine anytime during pregnancy. It is safe to receive these vaccines at the same time you get your COVID-19 vaccine, and will protect you, your pregnancy, and your baby after delivery. ​

What should I do if I feel sick?

Call your health care provider if you have any of the following COVID-19 symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle aches, sore throat or loss of sense of smell or taste, congestion or runny nose, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.   

  • Get tested right away even if you have been vaccinated. 

  • Follow the recommendations in the CDPH isolation guidance  if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive.  

How can COVID-19 affect my baby?

COVID-19 infection can cause severe infections in children and infants. Getting vaccinated while you are pregnant provides protection to babies under 6 months old who are currently ineligible for vaccination. 

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or another respiratory infection and are preparing to give birth, talk to your healthcare provider. Follow their recommendations on how best to protect your baby. ​

When I bring my newborn home, is it OK to have visitors over?

To help protect your baby, keep your baby away from sick people. Ask family, friends, and caregivers to stay up to date with COVID-19 and other vaccines, including whooping cough and flu vaccines. Consider asking visitors to test for COVID-19 right before visiting. Remind people around your baby to wash their hands often.  

Originally Published on May 21, 2021