PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Doctors want moms to know, whether you are breastfeeding or you are an expectant mom-to-be, you should get the COVID-19 vaccine. Not only is it safe, they say, but it could help your baby's health, as well.
Recently published studies found antibodies from the vaccine can make their way to the baby.
A study published in January by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that a COVID-19 vaccination in breastfeeding mothers could help supply virus protection in a baby for up to 6 weeks after a first vaccination.
The study, conducted in Israel, took breast milk samples from 84 women who were given the Pfizer vaccine. Two weeks after the first dose, COVID-19 antibodies were found in 61.8% of samples. One week after the second dose, antibodies were found in 81.6% of those tested. COVID-19 antibodies were still found in 65.7% of all breast milk samples three weeks after women received their second shot.
"It's not the same [as getting the vaccine], but it does supply some degree of protection," Dr. Melanie Stone, an OBGYN and lactation consultant for UPMC Pinnacle in Harrisburg said.
No mothers, or their infants, experienced any serious side-effects after receiving the vaccine. The same goes for pregnant women who took part in a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine which showed no evidence of a COVID-19 vaccine negatively affecting a pregnancy.
Of 35,691 participants who took part in a peer-based study using the V-Safe pregnancy registry app, researchers found no "obvious safety signals" in the data. Participants ranged in age from 16 to 54 years old. Side-effects including headache, fever, and chills, were less common in pregnant women than non-pregnant women, the study found. Of the 827 women who completed their pregnancy, the rates of miscarriage were consistent with pre-pandemic, pre-vaccine levels.
The CDC is now recommending pregnant women get the shot when able.
"This is a deeply personal decision and I encourage pregnant people to talk to their doctor or primary care provider to find out what is best for them and their baby," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Wolensky said.