How Safe is Covid 19 Vaccine for pregnant women?

Covid 19 is a highly virulent disease that has infected the world since late 2019. People infected by the virus usually have mild to moderate symptoms like fever, dry cough, and tiredness, these are most common. Some have shown aches, diarrhea, sore throat, conjunctivitis, loss of smell or taste, skin rash and discolouration of fingers and toes as less common ones. 

About the numbers- World Data


The above chart shows that the virus has infected both male and female alike. While cases are similar in number with just a point difference as observed between males and females, deaths are relatively higher in males. While the cases in 2020 were due to a common coronavirus type SARS-CoV-2, 2021 has seen a rise of other variants. 



United Kingdom


South Africa




These variants have given rise to different mutants in India. The mutants of E484Q and L452R were seen in samples tested in Maharashtra. Yet another N440K as seen in samples tested in Kerala. These are dangerous as the immune system fails to identify the virus. This increases chances of severe infections. 

Women are of great concerns as they menstruate regularly which makes their body vulnerable. Additionally, women are bearers of children during pregnancy and primary nutrition providers for children at birth during breastfeeding. Hence, organizations focus on their healthcare. 

Details about Vaccines

After tones of research scientist in India and the world have developed the following vaccines. 

  • Pfizer- BioNTech Vaccine manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech that is given in two doses between twenty-one days. 
  • Moderna Vaccine is manufactured by Moderna TX Inc. It is given in two shots between twenty-eight to thirty days. 
  • Oxford AstraZaneca is manufactured by AstraZaneca and University of Oxford. It is given in two shots between twenty-eight days. 
  • Johnson and Johnson manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a company of Johnson and Johnson. It is given in one shot dosage. 

While the first three is of mRNA type that is highly recommended. These trigger an immune response. The second is of a viral vector type that uses a spike protein on the surface of the cells. All the vaccines are not recommended for people with severe vaccine reaction. 

Government of India has recommended administering of vaccines in two doses between six to eight weeks based on current research. All frontline workers have received the same. It is currently given to all sixty years and older and forty-five years and older with comorbidities. Those forty-five and older without comorbidities will receive their first dose from 1 April onwards. The vaccines available in India are as follows: 

  • Covishield is a locally manufactured vaccine based on the Oxford-AstraZaneca type. It is manufactured by Serum Institute. 
  • Covaxin is a locally manufactured vaccine by Bharat Biotech that lead to the creation of anti-bodies. 

Vaccines and Pregnant Women

There was a concern among people regarding administering the vaccine to pregnant women. While in India they are yet to receive the vaccine, globally pregnant women have received the dose. As per research and observations here are some noted statements that will address queries with reference to safety of vaccines for pregnant women. 

         Take of major organizations

Experts from both The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States of America inform that pregnant people are of increased risk to be infected by the Virus.  They say there is no significant risk. However, there is limited data on proof for pregnant women. Yet, based on data available, the vaccine is recommended as pregnant women are often at high risk or exposure due to frequent medical attention.

Research institutes and their take on the vaccine 

Institutes such as John Hopkins, University of Chicago Medicine Department, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in London states that vaccines should not be withheld for women who are pregnant due to increasing vulnerability. But they recommend doctor’s advice before receiving a dose of the vaccine. Pregnant women could not be used for clinical trials due to the possibility of transmitting the injected virus to the fetus while being tested, thus due to limited research the possibilities in not fully known. However, based on the doses by others it is now being recommended as the risk of Covid 19 is greater than the vaccine. A study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health mentions that 52% pregnant women showed acceptance to receive the vaccine. Also while comparing countries around the world it is seen that vaccine acceptance is highest in India. 

Concerns, Myths and Facts

There are numerous concerns posed by pregnant women about the vaccine and its safety. The Harvard study mentions that women feel the vaccine is being promoted more due to political reasons rather than medical reasons. They fear that their babies could be exposed to the side effects of the vaccine if they choose to receive it. Some other concerns include the presence of anti-bodies and their reaction on the placenta and fetus. Others see the possibility of increasing risk of infertility as a major cause of concern for not being able to conceive later. However, institutes like Yale have debunked all these concerns and said, pregnant women should not be affected by misinformation. Fake news should be avoided as this could prevent availing essential healthcare needs for pregnant women. American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) opine that vaccinations should be speeded and available for women. Studies on animals have also suggested that there are no harmful effects on the fetus and female reproduction system. Doctors and Researchers suggest that people should as far as possible stay away from misinformation and avoid sharing fake news about negative concerns of the vaccine. This has a negative impact on the healthcare and medical research, particularly after experts have worked tirelessly to identify some solution and management systems. People must not delay to prevent future damage.   

Some stories of hope

A story published in the Washington Post informs that Pregnant women who receive the vaccine transfer the received anti-bodies to their babies. Dr. Maggie Burke, a mother and medical practitioner from Maryland was one of the first pregnant ladies observed who passed anti-bodies to her daughter Dottie who was born in mid-March 2021.  Some instances saw women recipients of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine show the presence of anti-bodies in their umbilical cord. One stated the presence of these anti-bodies in the breast milk of lactating mothers. This suggests that immunity can be passed on from mother to child both during and after birth. A recent study published in March had 130 participants, the number of pregnant women was 84, while lactating women was 31. All women showed similar aspects as seen in regular non-pregnant women and as stated above. These are positive signs especially when there is increased reluctance for the vaccine.  There are other emerging stories that are showing similar positive signs. 


Thus it can be stated that Covid 19 Vaccines are highly recommended for pregnant women, especially due to risk factors of being infected by the virus and with the current success rate as observed in cases of pregnant and lactating women. However, it is recommended that every person, especially with such conditions or comorbidities should consult their doctor before taking the same to clear their doubts and stay away from any problems that could arise in the future.  


Image Source: NY Times

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