April 26, 2021 -- The CDC has recommended that pregnant people get a COVID-19 vaccine after new research showed that the inoculation doesn’t pose additional risks for mothers or babies.
The initial COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials didn’t include pregnant people, but new studies with self-reported data from the vaccine rollout have suggested that the vaccines are safe and effective during pregnancy.
“The CDC recommends that pregnant people receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the CDC, said Friday during a White House COVID-19 briefing.
“We understand that this is a deeply personal decision,” she added. “We encourage people to talk to their doctors or primary care providers to determine what is best for them and their baby.”
The guidance is based on a new study published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, which indicated that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines don’t pose heightened risks during pregnancy.
In the peer-reviewed paper, the CDC’s COVID-19 Pregnancy Registry Team looked at self-reported data from nearly 36,000 people who were either pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant. They reported side effects after getting a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, which appeared to be typical, such as pain at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, and muscle aches. The data “did not show obvious safety signals among pregnant persons” or additional risks, the researchers wrote.
Pregnant patients reported pain at the injection site at a slightly higher rate than non-pregnant patients but were less likely to report headaches, muscle aches, chills, and fever. Among 827 study participants who had completed their pregnancies, the rate of miscarriage was consistent with pregnancy outcomes prior to the pandemic, the researchers wrote.
The paper released preliminary findings about COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy from December through February. The research team will continue to study the self-report data as the vaccine rollout continues. For instance, doctors and researchers want to see more data on pregnancy outcomes for those who receive a vaccine during their first trimester.
“More longitudinal follow-up, including follow-up of large numbers of women vaccinated earlier in pregnancy, is necessary to inform maternal, pregnancy, and infant outcomes,” they wrote.