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Ask the Expert: Can I have the Covid vaccine when I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

It is recommended that pregnant women should not be vaccinated, with some exceptions

Q: CAN I have the Covid jab when I'm pregnant or breastfeeding? If not, doesn't that put me and my baby at risk?

Fertility specialist Dr Cesar Díaz-García, medical director of the IVI London (ivi.uk) fertility clinic, says: “Right now, it's recommended that those who are pregnant should not be vaccinated, with some exceptions. This advice is just a precaution, because there's limited research about the effects of the vaccine on pregnant women.

“Pregnant women are historically excluded from clinical trials for ethical reasons, and were excluded from most Covid-19 vaccination trials. That being said, so far there's no evidence to suggest the vaccine could cause a negative effect in pregnancy.

"None of the authorised vaccines contain any live virus, which means they cannot multiply inside the body. Without containing organisms that can multiply, there's no risk the vaccine can harm or have any negative effect on an unborn baby.

“Vaccination is recommended in some exceptional cases for pregnant women. This includes pregnant women who are exposed to a particularly high risk of infection on a frequent basis, for example those working on an ICU ward, or where underlying health conditions put the pregnant woman at risk of serious complications from Covid-19, such as asthma or type 1 or 2 diabetes. If this is you, you should speak with your obstetrician to evaluate the risks, benefits and your personal circumstances.

“However, most pregnant women will be advised not be vaccinated at this time. Once you give birth, it's then safe to go ahead, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the vaccine can be received while breastfeeding.

“In the meantime, please feel reassured that while pregnant women are considered at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) of Covid-19, there's no evidence that they're more likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus. And while it may be possible for you to pass on coronavirus to your baby before birth, this has only happened in a small handful of cases. When it's happened, the babies have fully recovered very quickly.

“With increasing vaccination and advances in medicine, the situation is gradually becoming much safer. There are also trials under way for vaccination in healthy pregnant women, so in the future, we may be able to recommend vaccination to those expecting. However, it will be some time before we have the results.”

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