COVID-19 vaccination recommendations: before, during and after pregnancy
In Australia, COVID-19 vaccination is safe and recommended if you’re pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding. It’s also recommended for your partner, if you have one.
Of the vaccines approved for use in Australia, Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for pregnant women. Pregnant women can have these vaccines at any stage of pregnancy.
Women with healthy immune systems
If you have a healthy immune system and are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, you can have one of the following:
- Pfizer – a primary course of 2 doses, 3-8 weeks apart
- Moderna – a primary course of 2 doses, 4-8 weeks apart.
An initial booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna is recommended at least 3 months after the primary course of either of the vaccines above.
Some pregnant women with certain medical or other conditions might also be eligible for an additional booster dose.
Women with weak immune systems
If you have a weak immune system and are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, doctors might recommend:
- a primary course of 3 doses of Pfizer or Moderna, with the third dose 2-6 months after the first 2 doses
- an initial booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna at least 3 months after the first 3 doses
- an additional booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna 4 months after the first booster dose.
What if you get pregnant during or after your primary course?
If you get pregnant during your primary course, you should complete the course and get your booster at the recommended times.
If you get pregnant after your primary course, you should have your booster at the recommended time.
Should you get vaccinated if you’ve had COVID-19?
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended even if you’ve had COVID-19. Vaccination gives you better, longer-lasting protection than infection.
If you get COVID-19, you should wait 3 months before having your next recommended dose.
If you have a medical or other condition or a weak immune system because of a medical condition or medicine, it’s best to speak with your GP or immunisation provider. They can talk with you about your vaccination needs.
Why COVID-19 vaccination is important before, during and after pregnancy
COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to reduce the risks of COVID-19 if you’re pregnant.
If you get COVID-19 while pregnant, you’re at a higher risk of:
- having severe complications than someone who’s not pregnant, which means you’re more likely to need to go to hospital and have intensive care
- giving birth prematurely than a pregnant woman who doesn’t have COVID-19, which means your baby is more likely to need time in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Also, COVID-19 vaccination helps to keep your baby safe. If you’re vaccinated and either pregnant or breastfeeding, you might pass on antibodies to your baby. This means that your vaccination can give your baby indirect protection from COVID-19.
For more information on when, where and how to get vaccinated, go to Australian Government Department of Health – Getting your COVID-19 vaccination. You can also check your state or territory government or health website.
Why COVID-19 vaccination is important for everyone
COVID-19 vaccination prevents people from getting severe complications or dying from COVID-19.
Also, if enough people in the community are vaccinated against COVID-19, it builds herd immunity. This means the virus spread slows down because there aren’t enough people for the virus to infect. Herd immunity helps to protect people who can’t be vaccinated, including people who are more likely to get complications from COVID-19.
And if fewer people get very sick, people need less time off work and school. There’s less strain on our health and hospital system. And we can get on with our daily lives more easily.
If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy, talk with your GP, obstetrician, midwife or immunisation provider. These health professionals can give you more information and answer any questions you have.
COVID-19 vaccination safety and effectiveness
COVID-19 vaccination is safe. You have no increased risk of pregnancy complications because of vaccination. There are also no increased health risks for your baby.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is continually checking that all vaccines are safe and working as they should for pregnant women across the world.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines
Large numbers of pregnant women across the world have now had the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. There have been no safety concerns for the women or their babies.
Novavax is registered for use in Australia, but there’s less data about the safety of Novavax vaccine for pregnant women. Experts think there are no safety concerns with this vaccine, based on how similar vaccines work during pregnancy. You can consider Novavax if you can’t have Pfizer or Moderna. In this situation, talk to your GP, obstetrician, midwife, child and family nurse or immunisation provider about what’s best for you and your baby.
AstraZeneca is registered for use in Australia, but it’s not a preferred vaccine for people under 60 years. You can consider the AstraZeneca vaccine if you can’t get Pfizer or Moderna. In this situation, talk to your GP, obstetrician, midwife or child and family nurse about what’s best for you and your baby.
Protecting yourself against COVID-19 before, during and after pregnancy
You should take simple protective measures against COVID-19 before, during and after pregnancy, particularly if you’re not vaccinated. These measures include:
- maintaining physical distancing, including staying 1.5-2 m away from people you don’t live with if you can
- using good hand and personal hygiene
- wearing face masks if recommended or required by your state or territory health authorities
- improving airflow by keeping doors and windows open or using fans if you have visitors in your home
- having gatherings outdoors where possible.
If your work puts you at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, you might consider asking to be reassigned to lower-risk duties.
It’s best to get information about vaccinations from reliable and credible sources. The recommendations in this article are reliable because they come from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG).