The supply of emergency use authorization (EUA) COVID-19 vaccines in the United States is initially expected to be limited and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided recommendations to federal, state and local governments about who should be vaccinated first.1 The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended that healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities should be offered the first doses of two experimental messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which have been released for use in the U.S. under EUAs granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).2
Limited Pregnancy Safety Data Available for mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines
The CDC’s website states that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, considered to be part of the priority groups among health care personnel recommended by the CDC to get the COVID-19 vaccine, may voluntarily choose to be vaccinated. However, the CDC also states that there is only limited data available on the safety of COVID-19 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines administered during pregnancy.3
The CDC website adds that there is very limited data currently available from animal developmental and reproductive toxicity studies.4 It states:
mRNA vaccines do not interact with a person’s DNA because the mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell. Cells break down the mRNA quickly. Based on how mRNA vaccines work, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a specific risk for people who are pregnant. However, the actual risks of mRNA vaccines to the pregnant person and her fetus are unknown because these vaccines have not been studied in pregnant women.5
The CDC has advised that conversation between pregnant patients and their physician may help them decide whether to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine; however, consultation with a physician is not required prior to vaccination.6
Pregnant Women Advised to Take Acetaminophen for Vaccine Reaction Symptoms
With respect to side effects, the CDC said that side effects can occur with COVID-19 vaccine use in pregnant people similar to those expected among non-pregnant people. Pregnant people who experience fever following vaccination may be counseled to take acetaminophen. Acetaminophen may be offered as an option for pregnant people experiencing other post-vaccination symptoms, as well.7
Scientific literature shows that acetaminophen depletes glutathione levels, thus making it more difficult for the body to excrete harmful toxins. Glutathione is a sulfur-containing protein molecule found in nearly every cell of the human body, with the largest concentrations in the liver, which makes it critical in the body’s detoxification process.8
ACOG Agrees COVID-19 Vaccines Should Be Given to Pregnant Women
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that EUA COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant or lactating women, who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP recommendations for priority groups.9
While safety data on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy are not currently available, there are also no data to indicate that the vaccines should be contraindicated, and no safety signals were generated from Data from Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity (DART) studies for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Therefore, in the interest of allowing pregnant individuals who would otherwise be considered a priority population for vaccines approved for use under EUA to make their own decisions regarding their health, ACOG recommends that pregnant individuals should be free to make their own decision in conjunction with their clinical care team.10
Despite lack of developmental and reproductive toxicity data, ACOG recommends COVID-19 vaccination to women who are actively trying to become pregnant or are contemplating pregnancy and meet ACIP prioritization criteria for vaccination. ACOG said it is not necessary to delay pregnancy after receiving two recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.11
Click here to view References:
1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When Vaccine is Limited, Who Gets Vaccinated First?. Dec. 23, 2020.
3 CDC. Vaccination Considerations for People who are Pregnant or Breastfeeding. Dec. 28, 2020.
7 CDC. Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States. Dec. 20, 2020.
8 Cáceres M. Doctors Prescribe Acetaminophen for Fever After Vaccination. Really? The Vaccine Reaction Sept. 15, 2017.
9 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Vaccinating Pregnant and Lactating Patients Against COVID-19. Dec. 21, 2020.