The Covid-19 vaccination campaign is progressing rapidly. Many pregnant women and women planning to have children have already been vaccinated or are still deciding whether to get vaccinated. We spoke to Dr. Sergio Rogel, medical director of the IVF-Spain clinic, about Covid-19, vaccination and pregnancy as we are receiving more and more questions in our clinics about vaccination in relation to wanting to become pregnant, whether through IVF or by natural means. We also receive many enquiries from women who are already pregnant and are wondering whether vaccination is advisable.
As with any medical intervention, the decision for or against vaccination should be based on a risk-benefit assessment: What are the benefits of getting vaccinated, what are the risks?
This notice was published on the 29/07/2021 and has been updated with the latest recommendations provided by official sources as of 03/08/2021.
Why should I get the Covid-19 vaccine?
It should be noted that Covid-19 can be very serious or even life-threatening in some cases, even though about 80 % of those infected are asymptomatic. The high number of asymptomatic cases favours the spread of the virus, as those affected are unable to take the necessary measures to protect their friends and family due to the lack of symptoms that might arouse suspicion, and thus become a source of infection.
For this reason, vaccination is very important. On one hand, the vaccinated person has a much lower risk of developing serious symptoms if they become infected, and on the other hand, they are much less likely to spread the virus, as their viral load is much lower. Vaccination therefore does not prevent infection, but it minimises the health consequences for those affected and those around them. Vaccination against Covid-19 is therefore of great importance, not only for personal protection, but also for the protection of society in general.
It is not expected that the vaccine will eradicate the virus, but that it will gradually become a common disease with little impact on personal and societal health, like many other illnesses.
Covid 19 vaccination and pregnancy
Studies have shown that pregnancy increases the risk of severe Covid 19 symptoms. Pregnant women infected with the virus face up to six times the risk of being hospitalised, a 50% increased risk of being admitted to intensive care and a 70% increased risk of needing mechanical ventilation. However, the risk of death is not higher than in non-pregnant women.
But which vaccination is recommended for women who are pregnant or would like to become pregnant?
To answer this question, it is important to know that there are two different types of Covid 19 vaccines currently marketed:
- Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, such as BioNTech/Pfizer and Due to the mechanism of action of these vaccines, they are not expected to cause side effects during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
- Viral vector vaccines, e.g. AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Although these vaccines use benign adenoviruses as carriers of the viral RNA, they do not contain weakened coronaviruses and are therefore unlikely to have any effects on pregnancy and breastfeeding.
It is true that pregnant women were excluded from the clinical trials conducted by the pharmaceutical companies before the vaccines were marketed. However, many women who were not suspected of being pregnant were vaccinated (pregnancy was only subsequently detected), and no vaccine-related risks were found in this demographic either.
Despite this, the latest recommendations indicate that, because of the greater experience with mRNA vaccines, they are the most appropriate vaccines to administer to pregnant women, regardless of age.
Recommendations for Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy and while trying to get pregnant
Considering the numerous advantages of the vaccine and the low risks, scientific societies such as ASRM, ACOG, WHO, RCOG recommend vaccination during pregnancy. Furthermore, there are no counter indications for Covid-19 vaccination in any trimester of pregnancy.
For women who want to become pregnant, it is recommended that if possible, vaccination should be completed before pregnancy. Each case should be evaluated individually by the woman and her gynaecologist, always assessing the risk-benefit ratio.
At the clinics of the IVF-Life Group, we recommend that you follow these indications and, if you have any doubts, to assess with your gynaecologist when the most appropriate time to be vaccinated would be.
For more information, you can also consult official sources, e.g. American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), World Health Organization (WHO), Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)