After months of speculation about vaccine safety among pregnant women, new preliminary data released by the CDC suggests the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are safe to receive during pregnancy.
This is welcome news for pregnant women who are still hesitant about getting vaccinated against Covid-19. Pregnant women have not been included in vaccine trials, resulting in uncertainty among this group. Anti-vaccine misinformation on social media has also created doubts and falsehoods about the efficacy and safety of the Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market.
The CDC updated its guidance for pregnant women after more than 35,600 U.S. women self-reported their symptoms to U.S. vaccine safety monitoring systems after receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines during their pregnancy between mid-December and late-February as part of the study. The rates of adverse pregnancy outcomes (e.g., miscarriage, premature births, small size for gestational age, and congenital defects) were similar to published reports on pregnant women pre-pandemic.
“The CDC recommends that pregnant people receive the Covid-19 vaccine,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said during a White House press briefing. “We understand this is a deeply personal decision. We encourage people to talk to their doctors to determine what is best for them and their baby.”
The pregnant women in the study also experienced injection site side effects similar to others in the general population, including pain at the injection site, headache, chills and fever. Additionally, pregnant women did not record having severe reactions more frequently than women who were not pregnant.
The CDC’s encouraging data could not have come at a better time. A separate global study published in JAMA Pediatrics revealed pregnant women who contracted Covid-19 were 22 times more likely to die than pregnant women who did not contract the virus. Pregnant women who contract Covid-19 also had higher rates of pregnancy complications, such as preterm births, preeclampsia, and ICU admissions.
Only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were assessed in pregnant women as part of the CDC research. The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was temporarily paused after six women experienced a rare and serious blood clotting disorder, was not part of the study.
The CDC report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.