WASHINGTON — Social media has been an instrumental tool in spreading misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
Verify readers asked us if it is dangerous to get vaccinated while pregnant or that there are adverse effects on fertility. We brought those questions to our experts.
Do health experts say you should get the vaccine if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant?
Our experts said there is no evidence that the vaccine is unsafe for pregnant people or people who want to become pregnant.
- Dr. Gigi Gronvall, an Immunologist and Associate Professor of Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University
- Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
The COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States did not include pregnant individuals in their trials. Because of this, the World Health Organization takes a more cautious approach to its recommendations. The organization says this is because "very little data are available to assess vaccine safety in pregnancy."
But, the WHO says it is important to measure whether the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. It told us, "For this reason, pregnant women at high risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (e.g. health workers) or who have comorbidities which add to their risk of severe disease, maybe vaccinated in consultation with their health care provider."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) had been pushing the WHO to update its recommendations for getting vaccinated while pregnant. ACOG has consistently stated that the risks of getting sick with COVID-19 outweigh the risks of vaccination, and pregnant individuals should not be restricted from accessing the shot.
"They all agreed that there were no data to suggest that pregnant women should be withheld from the opportunity to get this vaccine," Dr. William Schaffner explained. "That said, we have not done large prospective studies in pregnant women. They're underway, but so far, so good. There seem to be no adverse events."
Dr. Gigi Gronvall with Johns Hopkins University agrees.
"Tens of thousands of pregnant women have already gotten the vaccine and have done really well," Dr. Gronvall says. "The risks of not getting the vaccine can be heightened for pregnant women. You may have more severe outcomes with COVID if you're not vaccinated.
A CDC fast sheet debunks the claim that people who want to become pregnant one day should not get vaccinated: "There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta."
So we can Verify that although the vaccine trials did not include pregnant individuals, our experts see no evidence that should restrict access to vaccines for those who are pregnant or want to one day become pregnant.
"There's lots of nonsense on social media to the effect that the vaccine may interfere with your fertility, your capacity to have a child," Dr. Schaffner says. "There's universal agreement among the experts that that's a lot of malarkey."
The CDC stresses that vaccination is ultimately a personal choice, and those who are pregnant should consider the risks of COVID-19 and the absence of trial data with their healthcare provider.