Your Recent Questions about the COVID Vaccine
Dr. Hancock has answered some of the recent questions we have received about the vaccines for COVID-19. If you have other questions, please contact our office, your primary care doctor or your local health department.
1. Will the COVID vaccination affect my fertility?
Currently no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant) in women or men. After review of available data, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the CDC find no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes a loss of fertility. A recent study comparing women who had the vaccine with women who had COVID and women who aren’t vaccinated and did not have COVID showed no difference in their ability to become pregnant. There is currently no evidence that antibodies made following COVID-19 vaccination or that vaccine ingredients would cause any problems with becoming pregnant now or in the future.
2. I’ve been trying to get pregnant but my job is now mandating the vaccine. Should I get the vaccine?
Yes, COVID vaccination is recommended for women who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners. The recommendation comes from reviews of available data in those who have been vaccinated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the CDC. Additional information about the COVID vaccine for those who are trying for pregnancy is available here: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/planning-for-pregnancy.html
3. What are the risks of getting COVID while pregnant?
Pregnant women are at increased risk of severe illness, including hospitalization, intensive care unit treatment, and need for special equipment to help them breath, like a ventilator. Pregnant women with COVID are also at increased risk for preterm birth.
4. I’m pregnant and just don’t know about being vaccinated. Any advice?
You can speak with any provider about your COVID vaccination questions and concerns. You can also contact MotherToBaby where experts are available to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or chat. The free and confidential service is available Monday – Friday 8am–5pm. You can call 1-866-626-6847 or send a text to 855-999-8525 (standard messaging rates may apply).
5. Can I still breastfeed if I get the COVID vaccine?
Yes, you can still breastfeed after getting the COVID vaccine. You can still breastfeed if you get the COVID vaccination while pregnant, and you can still breastfeed if you choose to get the COVID vaccination after you have your baby. Recent studies show that none of the vaccine is present in breast milk. In fact, breastfeeding may pass some of your body’s immune response to your baby, which may help protect your baby from COVID infection.
6. Why are vaccinated people getting COVID?
No vaccine is 100% effective in preventing infection. A small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 when exposed to the virus. These are called “vaccine breakthrough cases.” The risk of a breakthrough infection depends on your potential exposure to people with COVID. The more people around you that have COVID, the more you’re exposed. The more you’re exposed, the higher the chance your immune response will not be able to prevent infection. It’s also possible a person could be infected just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. It typically takes about 2 weeks for the body to build protection after vaccination, so a person could get sick if the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. Vaccinated or not, we should all continue to use the 3 W’s: wash your hands, wear a mask, and watch your distance.
7. How does getting vaccinated protect others?
Being vaccinated helps prevent you from becoming very sick, and also helps reduce your risk of transmission. So, if you are vaccinated, you are less likely to bring COVID home, which could infect any unvaccinated family member. One of the big benefits to being vaccinated is you reduce the risk of spreading to others. For example, in a recent study of those who received the Pfizer vaccine, fully or partially vaccinated study participants had 40 percent less detectable virus in their nose (i.e., a lower viral load), and the virus was detected for six fewer days (i.e., viral shedding) compared to those who were unvaccinated when infected.
8. Someone who is not vaccinated vs someone who is: what are the chances of one being in worse condition than the other?
You are much more likely to have a serious, life-threatening illness if you are infected and have NOT been vaccinated. Nearly all COVID related deaths now are in unvaccinated individuals. In a recent study, fully or partially vaccinated people who developed COVID-19 spent on average six fewer total days sick and two fewer days sick in bed. They also had about a 60 percent lower risk of developing symptoms, like fever or chills, compared to those who were unvaccinated.
9. I heard the COVID vaccine is causing heart inflammation in people under 30 years of age. What are the chances of this actually happening?
The risk of COVID is much greater than the risk of heart inflammation from the vaccine. Typically, heart inflammation itself doesn’t cause any problems, but can as time passes. The risk is greater in someone who develops high blood pressure, diabetes, is a smoker, or has other risks for heart problems. To date, per the CDC, more than 319 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the US, and there are about 1500 reported cases of heart inflammation. You have a higher risk of being hit by lightning than getting heart inflammation from a COVID vaccination.
10. Can I get an exemption from the vaccination?
There are very few medical reasons to not be vaccinated. The available COVID vaccines do not contain eggs, gelatin, latex, or preservatives. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, rare earth alloys or any manufactured products such as microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes, or nanowire semiconductors. If you have an allergy to a component of the COVID vaccine, or had a severe allergic reaction after a prior dose, you should not receive the vaccine. However, we do support your right to make your own decision and will be happy to discuss your specific questions, concerns, and circumstances at an appointment. If you have specific paperwork from your employer, please do bring the paperwork with you.
Photo Credit: iStock