The three currently available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in those who are pregnant, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To date, “no safety concerns” during pregnancy have been reported in vaccine clinical trials or during the first eight-plus months of widespread use in the United States. And no evidence exists that the shots impact fertility, the data showed.
The two-dose vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna received emergency use authorizations in December, while the one-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson received that authorization early in February.
Full approval of one or more of the vaccines could come as soon as the end of this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday.
The COVID-19 vaccines also do not cause infections in recipients, including in those who are pregnant or their babies, as none of the three contain the live virus, the CDC said.
Rather, early data suggest that receiving the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines during pregnancy reduces a person’s risk for infection, and that vaccination of pregnant people “builds antibodies that might protect their baby,” according to the CDC.
Based on these findings, the agency is recommending that all people age 12 and older become vaccinated against COVID-19.
“CDC encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
“The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people,” she said.
The guidance comes on the same day a study published by JAMA Network Open revealed that becoming infected with the virus during pregnancy raises the risk for preterm delivery.
Pregnant women are also thought to be at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, according to CDC research released last summer.
Due to these dangers, people who become pregnant between the first and second doses of a two-shot vaccine should complete the process for full inoculation, according to the government.
Although adverse effects can occur after receiving any of the existing COVID-19 vaccinations, particularly the second of two doses, pregnant women have not reported any different side effects than non-pregnant women after receiving the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, according to the CDC.
Despite these encouraging findings, the CDC estimates that only around 20% of pregnant adults aged 20 to 49 have been immunised against the virus.
“The increased circulation of the highly contagious Delta variant, low uptake among pregnant people, and the increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications associated with COVID-19 infection among pregnant people make vaccination for this population more urgent than ever,” according to the CDC.