Which COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women?
There are two COVID-19 vaccines registered for use in Australia – the Pfizer vaccine (two doses) and the AstraZeneca vaccine (two doses). Further vaccines are likely to be registered when current clinical trials finish.
In Australia, the Pfizer vaccine is the preferred vaccine for adults under the age of 50 years. Most pregnant women will be in this age group, so the advice in this article relates to COVID-19 vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccination and pregnant women
COVID-19 vaccination is likely to be safe and effective for pregnant women.
But we can’t say for sure that the Pfizer vaccine is safe for pregnant women, because pregnant women weren’t included in the first COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.
We’re learning more about COVID-19, pregnancy and vaccination all the time. Vaccine clinical trials are starting to include pregnant women, and early results are showing that COVID-19 vaccines are highly safe and effective during pregnancy.
Pregnant women at low risk of COVID-19: vaccination recommendations
COVID-19 vaccination is not currently routinely recommended for healthy pregnant women who are at a low risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Pregnant women at high risk of COVID-19: vaccination recommendations
COVID-19 vaccination might be recommended for pregnant women who are at a high risk of COVID-19 exposure or complications.
If you’re pregnant, you might be at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 if you:
- work in certain jobs – for example, you work in quarantine facilities, frontline health care, aged care or disability care
- live in an area where the virus is circulating
- can’t protect yourself from the virus with physical distancing, face masks and so on.
If you’re pregnant, you might be at high risk of complications from COVID-19 if you:
- have an underlying health condition like diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, obesity or heart disease
- have a weakened immune system because of a medical condition or medication
- are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander woman.
Protecting yourself against COVID-19 during pregnancy
If you’re pregnant and aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, it’s important to protect yourself against the virus in other ways. This includes:
- physical distancing
- good hand and personal hygiene
- face masks if recommended or required by your state or territory health authorities.
If your work puts you at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, you could ask to be reassigned to lower-risk duties.
If you’re pregnant and get COVID-19, current evidence says the health risks for you and your baby are small. But pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to need hospitalisation and intensive treatment than non-pregnant women. There’s also an increased risk of premature birth. That’s why it’s important for all pregnant women to take simple protective measures against the virus, and for women in high-risk groups to consider vaccination as well.
Planning a pregnancy: COVID-19 vaccination recommendations
If you’re planning a pregnancy, COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for you and your partner, if you have one.
You can keep trying to get pregnant before and after vaccination.
If you get pregnant after being fully vaccinated with both doses of COVID-19 vaccine, current evidence says that you have no increased risk of pregnancy complications.
There are also no increased health risks for your baby.
If you get pregnant after your first dose, talk with your obstetrician, GP or midwife about whether to get the second dose or to wait until after your pregnancy. If you have only one dose of the vaccine, you will have some protection against COVID-19. But you might not be fully protected or the protection might not last as long as it would if you’d had two doses.
Breastfeeding: COVID-19 vaccination recommendations
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for breastfeeding women.
The Pfizer vaccine is considered safe for women who are breastfeeding and their babies.
If you have any concerns, you should discuss these with your GP, child and family health nurse or immunisation provider.
Why COVID-19 vaccination is important
COVID-19 vaccination prevents people from getting severe complications or dying from COVID-19.
If enough people in the community are vaccinated against COVID-19, it builds herd immunity. This means the virus spread slows down or stops 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 sick or get very sick, people can go to work and school. There’s less strain on our health and hospital system. And we can get on with our daily lives more easily.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Australia is happening in phases, starting with people at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19 or complications from COVID-19. Use the Australian Government Department of Health’s vaccine eligibility checker to find out when and where you can get vaccinated.