Can You Get a Booster COVID-19 Shot While Pregnant?

You probably already know how important it is for pregnant women to receive the vaccine against COVID-19. Pregnant women are at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19, including needing to be admitted to intensive care, needing a ventilator and even dying.

Having COVID-19 during pregnancy also increases the risk for preterm birth and other complications, including pregnancy loss.

Vaccination is the most effective form of protection against COVID-19, and leading experts say the various COVID-19 vaccines that have been developed are safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as anyone hoping to become pregnant. in the future.[1]

However, many pregnant women are still not vaccinated, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends “immediate action” to increase COVID-19 vaccination among expectant mothers.

In addition to strongly urging all pregnant women to get their initial vaccinations for COVID-19, the CDC and other major medical organizations also recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated to get a booster shot.

Here’s what you need to know.

Can you get a COVID-19 booster shot if you are pregnant?

Yes, expectant mothers are eligible and encouraged to get the COVID-19 booster vaccine. However in April 2023, the FDA and the CDC they announced that they would phase out the original monovalent vaccines (including boosters) and replace them with their updated bivalent (targeting multiple strains) counterparts.[2]

The bivalent vaccines were originally available as booster shots and specifically targeted the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, which at one stage were considered more than 90 percent of cases.

These multi-strain Omicron boosters were approved for emergency use authorization by the FDA in August 2022, after which they got the green light from the CDC and became available in the US Children ages 6 months and older and adults can get both the Pfizer made and the Moderna version.

Originally, people could get a shot of the updated vaccine at least two months after the primary or booster vaccination. These new bivalent vaccines contain two parts of the mRNA of COVID-19, one of the original strain of the virus and the other that is identical between the BA.4 and BA.5 lineages of the Omicron variant, according to FDA.

But starting in the spring of 2023, those bivalent vaccines will be the only ones available and recommended for use in the US, with the original monovalent vaccines having been phased out and no longer recommended. Most people are only eligible for one dose, but those 65 and older as well as the immunocompromised can get two doses.

The CDC’s past guidelines for booster shot timetables depend on which vaccine you received:

  • Pfizer-BioNtech: Five months after completing the primary vaccination series.
  • Modern: Five months after completing the primary vaccination series.
  • Johnson and Johnson: Two months after receiving the vaccination.

The CDC used to be too approved the Novavax vaccinebut not as a booster.

Regardless of the vaccine you got initially, the CDC recommends the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine booster shot (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in most situations. However, for those who can only get a booster shot if they were able to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and for those who have had a severe reaction to an mRNA vaccine in the past, the CDC says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be used. as a booster shot.

Experts note that it’s also important to get your flu shot during pregnancy. Pregnant patients should know that they can receive their flu and COVID-19 vaccines (either the initial dose or booster) on the same day or within the same period.

Can pregnant women get the updated bivalent Omicron shot?

The latest COVID-19 bivalent vaccines target the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, and must go through the same testing process as the original COVID-19 vaccines. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the new vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, and they were then recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC director Rochelle Walensky, MD

“The updated COVID-19 boosters were developed to better protect against the most recently circulating variants of COVID-19,” said Dr. Walensky in a press release. “They can help restore protection that has weakened since the last vaccination and are designed to provide greater protection against new variants. This recommendation follows a comprehensive scientific review and robust scientific discussion. If you are eligible , there is never a bad time to get your COVID-19 booster and I strongly encourage you to take it.”

The CDC did not use specific language for pregnant women but “nothing changes in the recommendations,” said Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York. “The safety data for the booster is really based on our prior experience, where there were billions of shots in the arm with the mRNA vaccine,” he said. “The benefits to pregnant women are significant.”

The updated bivalent shots, like their one-strain counterparts, are very safe for pregnant women, he said.

“The safety profile must be unique,” said Dr. Russo.

When should pregnant women get a booster shot?

Whether you were vaccinated with the original shots or not, you should get the updated multi-strain vaccine as soon as possible, according to the CDC and other experts.

Why is it so important to get a vaccine for COVID-19 if you qualify?

The best way to protect yourself and your unborn baby from COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated. That’s why the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) strongly recommend that pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vaccines help the body build immunity against the virus that causes COVID-19, so if you are faced with the actual virus in the future, your body will know how to fight it more effectively. If you’re vaccinated, not only are you less likely to get COVID-19, but you’re also less likely to experience mild symptoms from a breakthrough infection.

Furthermore, the vaccine may also help protect your newborn from COVID-19 in the first months of life. Some research has found that antibodies produced after pregnant women received the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine were also found in their breast milk, and a large Norweigan study published in June 2022 found that the newborns are more likely to test positive for COVID-19 if their mothers were vaccinated while pregnant.

However, as is the case with many other vaccines, the protection of the COVID-19 vaccine may begin to wane over time. That’s why the CDC first approved a monovalent booster shot for all adults, including pregnant women, and children, and later approved the bivalent booster for everyone 6 months and older .

Not only will a booster give you extra protection during pregnancy, it can help keep you safer in the early postpartum period. Pregnant women remain at increased risk for complications for at least 42 days after giving birth, the CDC notes.

Emerging research shows that babies can benefit from protective antibodies from their vaccinated mothers in utero that can expand after birth. So getting the shot not only keeps you and the baby safe while you’re pregnant — it can also offer additional benefits for your child after he’s born.

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