Let’s dive right into ALL YOUR QUESTIONS about the vaccine as it relates to pregnancy, fertility and breastfeeding. Dr. Amy Crawford-Faucher is the Vice Chair of the Department of Family Medicine & Primary Care Institute at AHN and she has so many wonderful insights and answers!
Q: Any more data on how it affects eggs or fetuses? Scientifically we know that it has no effect on eggs or fetuses. The vaccine does not cross the placenta. It does not get into the DNA of any cells so it cannot affect the genetic code of any of the cells including eggs. There have been a few hundred women who got pregnant (after getting the vaccine or didn’t know they were pregnant when they got it) and they’ve had healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.
Q: Should I get the vaccine before I try to get pregnant? Yes. Don’t let pregnancy planning get in the way of getting the vaccine. What we do know for sure is that if you get COVID when you’re pregnant, your risk of ending up in the ICU or having really severe disease is much, much higher than a woman of the same age who’s not pregnant. And that can, of course, have an effect on the baby.
Q: Biggest difference between J&J / Moderna / Pfizer vaccines? J&J is a slightly more “old fashioned” method of getting a vaccine into cells. It does not use the MRNA. Moderna and Pfizer are the two that work very similarly and what’s exciting about them is they use a “messenger RNA.” It’s basically like a “computer code” that gets injected into your cells and teaches the cell how to make the particular protein to fight the COVID virus. These MRNA vaccines are much easier for the pharmaceutical companies to make more quickly and get to market than the “old fashioned” vaccines.
Q: I heard that it could cause infertility issues. Is that true? That is not true. Early on there was some concern that the protein the vaccine would make would look similar to a protein that is in the growing placenta. And folks were wondering, if it’s going to fight the COVID protein, is it also going to fight this? Yale Medical School studied this and they discovered that the proteins are completely different. The only caveat is that if you’re in the middle of infertility treatment, talk to your doctor about when to time the vaccine. Because we do know you can get a slight fever when you get the vaccine…the fever doesn’t change your fertility but it could be confusing if you also just had a procedure and the question is…do you have a fever from the vaccine or an infection from the procedure? That’s why you should talk to your doctor. Bottom line…the vaccine will not make you more or less fertile.
Q: When will it go from experimental FDA approval to FDA approval? Is there a timeframe? That’s a really good question without a good answer. I don’t have a good answer for that one.
Q: I had a reaction to the tdap vaccine last year. Is it safe to get the COVID vaccine? I would ask that person more questions like…what kind of reaction did you have? Most reactions are a more exaggerated response in the arm. The only reaction that gives us pause and we discuss more thoroughly, is if you had an anaphylactic reaction to a vaccine.
Q: Curious when kids (ages 2 – 10) will get the vaccine? Closer than we thought! I would suspect by the fall. I don’t have any intel on that, it’s just my gut feeling!
Q: Any risk to getting the vaccine while breastfeeding? No. Actually, we have information that shows it’s safe to get the vaccine while breastfeeding and it looks like the antibodies the mom creates pass through the breast milk and may protect babies from COVID!