With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of slowing down after two years, the focus has turned to vaccines and vaccine boosters for eligible people, including people who are pregnant.
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While we know that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people who are pregnant, what about booster shots?
According to Ob/Gyn Oluwatosin Goje, MD, the COVID-19 vaccine boosters are absolutely safe for people who are pregnant. Dr. Goje detailed further details about what people who are pregnant should know about getting their booster shot.
Is it safe to mix and match your booster dose if you’re pregnant?
In the fall of 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that allows adults to receive any available COVID-19 vaccine as their booster shot regardless of which vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson) they received for their initial vaccination.
This extends to people who are pregnant, too, says Dr. Goje. “On December 17, 2021, the CDC advised that either of the mRNA vaccines — Pfizer or Moderna — were preferable for a booster shot, especially with the Omicron variant,” she says.
If neither of those vaccines is available, though, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still safe to receive as a booster.
“Vaccines wane over time so by receiving the booster, you’re improving immunity for both yourself and the fetus,” says Dr. Goje. “You’re doing yourself and your child a favor by getting the booster.”
Even if you’re not pregnant, Dr. Goje says you should still get the booster if you plan on trying to conceive in the future.
Are people who are pregnant more likely to feel side effects from the booster?
People who are pregnant are no more likely to feel side effects than others, says Dr. Goje. “Most people experience side effects with their booster that’s similar to side effects they had with their original vaccination,” she notes. “It’s mostly been body aches fatigue, some soreness, some fever and headaches.”
Just as with the side effects from the vaccinations, there aren’t any risks to either people who are pregnant or their children from the side effects of the booster shot. Just be sure to stay properly hydrated.
Dr. Goje also says that taking acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is safe to take for the aches and pains from any side effects. “We don’t recommend ibuprofen in pregnancy but acetaminophen and, if necessary, antinausea medicine is safe,” she says
Have any organizations or associations endorsed getting a booster if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding?
Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) have recommended people who are pregnant or breastfeeding should get a booster shot.
Data from recent studies indicate that people who are pregnant or breastfeeding who received the vaccine passed it on to their babies via the placenta and breast milk. While there’s more research to be done, these results underscore more potential benefits for getting vaccinated and receiving a booster shot.
If you have any questions, Dr. Goje adds, reach out to your healthcare provider.
The bottom line: Get vaccinated, get boosted
Just as with vaccinations, boosters are essential in protecting both people who are pregnant and their fetus, says Dr. Goje. “A majority of pregnant patients who are currently hospitalized are unvaccinated,” she says. “Vaccines work and save lives.”