CDPH recommends that all persons, including those that are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, get vaccinated and boosted, when eligible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for all people 5 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.
The guidance below is intended to answer many of the questions you may have if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, including the importance of vaccines to yourself and your child. You can also talk to your healthcare provider to help you in your decision whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Questions and Answers
Is it safe to get vaccinated during pregnancy?
Yes, all evidence to date indicates that COVID-19 vaccination before, during and after pregnancy is safe and effective.
Pregnant and lactating people should choose between the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to protect them and may consider discussing vaccination with their usual healthcare provider. For more information on COVID-19 Vaccines, refer to the Vaccines for COVID-19 | CDC.
People who are pregnant should receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot either five months after a two-dose Moderna or Pfizer series or two months after a dose of Johnson & Johnson. If you received a Johnson & Johnson dose, strongly consider getting a Pfizer or Moderna booster shot. These vaccines use a small, harmless piece of the virus that triggers an immune response but cannot make you sick. If you are exposed to COVID-19 after vaccination, your immune system will be able to recognize the virus and make antibodies to help protect you and your baby against COVID-19.
Are COVID-19 vaccines effective?
Yes, the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for pregnant people because of the protection they provide against COVID-19. The vaccine works by triggering an immune response in the body, causing the body to produce protective antibodies, which also are passed to their baby in the womb, so the baby is born with some protection from day one.
Is the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide to pregnant people passed on to their babies during pregnancy?
It is both safe and recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy. When people receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy, their bodies build antibodies against COVID-19. These antibodies have been found in umbilical cord blood, which means that vaccination during pregnancy protects babies against COVID-19 as well.
What are the long-term effects on the baby when a person gets a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy?
COVID-19 vaccines are safe for you and your baby. The vaccines provided in the U.S. do not use live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot infect you or your baby with COVID-19, and in fact COVID-19 vaccines help safely protect pregnant people and their babies against COVID-19.
What else should I consider in making the decision whether to get vaccinated?
You may have other health conditions in addition to pregnancy that put you at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. You may wish to consult with your healthcare provider if you have additional concerns regarding the decision whether to get vaccinated.
How can I prevent getting COVID-19? Can COVID-19 be more serious if I'm pregnant?
If you are pregnant, you are at higher risk for severe COVID-19. Pregnant or recently pregnant people (within 42 days postpartum) are at higher risk for getting very sick with COVID-19, including the risk of being hospitalized, being in the intensive care unit (ICU) or having to use a ventilator or special equipment to breathe compared to people who are not pregnant and get sick with COVID-19. Pregnant people with COVID-19 infection are also at increased risk of pre-term birth (delivering a baby before 37 weeks).
It is important that you protect yourself against COVID-19 by taking the actions below:
- Get vaccinated. CDC recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding people receive a COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot(s) when they are eligible for it. Experts have not identified any safety concerns for vaccinated pregnant or breastfeeding people or their breastfeeding babies. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus, so they cannot cause COVID-19. Pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy can safely protect you and your baby from severe illness if you get COVID-19. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about getting COVID-19 vaccine. For more information, refer to CDC Vaccines while Pregnant or Breastfeeding or CDPH Guidance for Vaccination during Pregnancy.
- Wear a face covering when you are in indoor public settings, even if you are vaccinated.
- 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.
If I decide to get the vaccine, what more should I know?
- You may have side effects after vaccination, such as body aches, chills, and tiredness. These are normal for everyone, and they are temporary.
- Having a fever during pregnancy can harm a developing baby. If you are pregnant and get a fever after vaccination, call your healthcare provider and ask if you should take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to lower your fever.
- Some people have had severe allergic reactions to the vaccine. CDC recommends that if you have a history of severe allergic reactions to any vaccine or injectable medicine, talk to your healthcare provider before getting vaccinated.
- You can enroll in v-safe, a cell phone app that provides health checks-ins after your COVID-19 vaccination.
- You should not be denied the 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.
Is it safe to go to my prenatal and postpartum office visits?
Take care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy and after delivery by taking the actions below:
- Do not skip your prenatal or postpartum care appointments. Wear a mask during all appointments.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you have about COVID-19.
- Ask your healthcare provider who can attend your prenatal and postpartum appointments with you.
- Consult with your healthcare provider about who can attend the birth.
- Discuss when to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
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 if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, even if you have been vaccinated and follow the recommendations in the CDPH Isolation and Quarantine guidance if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
How does COVID-19 affect my baby?
While much is still unknown about the risks of COVID-19 to babies, we do know that babies born to people who got COVID-19 during pregnancy usually do not have COVID-19.
Nevertheless, some newborns have tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after birth. It is unknown if these newborns got the virus before, during or after birth. Most newborns who tested positive for COVID-19 had mild or no symptoms and recovered. However, there are rare reports of newborns with severe COVID-19 illness. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and are preparing to give birth, talk to your healthcare provider. Follow their recommendations on how best to protect your baby.
The good news is that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 during pregnancy helps the body develop antibody protection that is passed on to the developing baby so the newborn baby has some protection at birth. While COVID-19 infection in pregnant women has shown to increase the risk of miscarriage and preterm birth, the COVID-19 vaccine can also offer protection to decrease this risk.
If I have COVID-19 when my baby is born, will my baby be allowed to room-in with me?
There are many benefits of having early and close contact between you and your baby. The ideal setting for care of a healthy, full-term newborn while in the hospital is in your room. Parents who room-in with their babies can more easily learn and respond to their babies' feeding cues, which helps with breastfeeding. The risk of a baby catching COVID-19 from their parent is low. There is usually no difference in risk of COVID-19 for the baby whether a baby is cared for in a separate room or stays in the parent's room.
If you think you may have COVID-19 or know you have it, you will need to take steps to help protect your baby while rooming-in together. Steps include:
- Wearing a mask when feeding, holding, or caring for your baby.
- Washing your hands before touching your baby.
When the parent or the baby is very ill, temporary separation may be considered. Temporary separation should be a shared decision between parents, family, and the health care provider. For more information, visit Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns if you have COVID-19.
When I bring my newborn home, is it ok to have visitors over?
People can have COVID-19 and spread the disease even before they have any symptoms. Only vaccinated individuals or those living in the newborn's household should be near or taking care of the baby. Consider asking visitors to test for COVID-19 right before visiting.
I am pregnant and I do not feel safe continuing to work. What can I do?
Talk about your concerns with your employer:
- If you have sick leave, you may use your sick leave to stay at home.
- If you do not have sick leave, you may be covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA is unpaid leave that allows you to keep your job if you miss work to care for yourself or a sick family member. For more information on FMLA and COVID-19, visit U.S. Department of Labor. For more information on paid family leave in California, please visit Employee Development Department and Employee Development Department Pregnancy FAQs.
- You may be protected under the California Pregnancy Disability Leave law, if:
- Your employer has more than five employees, and
- You can show proof from your health care provider that due to the condition of pregnancy you are not able to work without putting your health or the health of your baby at risk.
For more information, visit the following webpages:
California COVID-19 Vaccines, COVID-19 and Pregnancy (CDC), and COVID-19 Vaccines for People who Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding (CDC).
Originally Published on May 21, 2021