By Jasmine Sufi R.TCMP
Edited by: Ellice Yang R.TCMP & Edna Canning-Park
Canada has ramped up its vaccination efforts over the last 6 weeks and as a result we’re seeing positive momentum of people receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, including many of our patients. In our clinic, we primarily work with people who are trying to conceive or are pregnant, and we are often asked if they can receive the vaccine if they’re in one of these two situations. So, we thought we would compile the facts and what is known to date to help you make an informed decision if you are considering the COVID-19 vaccine while trying to conceive or pregnant.
Vaccinations are a personal choice and individuals should speak to their healthcare provider to ensure that they are making the best decision according to their individual health needs.
“The COVID-19 vaccines authorized now are non-replicating vaccines, meaning they are able to create an immune response but do not reproduce inside host cells.” (CDC, 2021)
“The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are mRNA vaccines that do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19 and, therefore, cannot give someone COVID-19. Additionally, mRNA vaccines do not interact with a person’s DNA or cause genetic changes because the mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.”(CDC, 2021)
“The J&J/Janssen and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are a viral vector vaccine, meaning it uses a modified version of a different virus (the vector) to deliver important instructions to our cells. Viral vector technology has been used by Janssen for other vaccine development programs. Vaccines that use the same viral vector have been given to pregnant people in all trimesters of pregnancy, including in a large-scale Ebola vaccination trial. No adverse pregnancy-related outcomes, including adverse outcomes that affected the infant, were associated with vaccination in these trials.” (CDC, 2021)
Fertility and Vaccination:
CDC has stated that there is no change in fertility after getting vaccinated and deems it safe for those trying to conceive.
Breastfeeding and Vaccination:
Unfortunately there is no clinical data available, as lactating women were not included in the clinical trials to date. However, because all the vaccines are non-replicating vaccines, it is believed that these vaccines “pose no risk for lactating people or their infants.” (CDC, 2021)
Pregnancy and Vaccination:
Based on how these vaccines work in the body, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a specific risk for people who are pregnant. However, there is currently limited data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people. (CDC, 2021)
The Society of Obstetricians of Gynecologists of Canada, department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane has advised those who are pregnant to be prioritized and in recent days Ontario has identified pregnancy as a high risk population and are now eligible to receive the vaccine, other regions in Canada have already done so or will follow shortly. This is in response to increased ICU occupancy of pregnant individuals. COVID-19 is showing increased severity during pregnancy and this may increase the chances of premature birth.
We understand that there are no concrete answers and making the decision to take the vaccine can be a difficult one. When deciding you must take into account your health risks and the risk of infection from COVID-19, for instance; are you working from home or do you have to go into a workplace?; what is your risk of contact within the community?; and, are there any health and wellness concerns within your family?. In addition, you should consider the rate of infection in your community as you weigh your risk versus benefits.
If you are currently undergoing fertility treatments, you will need to speak to your fertility specialist in terms of how taking the vaccine may impact fertility treatments. You may be recommended to time the vaccines so that the inflammatory response does not impact embryo transfer. This is a discussion that your healthcare professional will be happy to help you with. Other sources of information can be found at your local public health department.
We hope this helps to empower you with the information you need to make an informed decision for your health and safety.
Vaccination Considerations for People Pregnant or Breastfeeding. (2021, April 28). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html
Public Health Agency of Canada. (2021). Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines – Canada.ca. Health Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/immunization/national-advisory-committee-on-immunization-naci/recommendations-use-covid-19-vaccines.html
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. (2021, June). SOGC statement regarding pregnant women and individuals with COVID-19 in ICUs in Ontario. https://www.sogc.org/common/Uploaded%20files/Latest%20News/EN_Statement-COVID-19_PregnantWomen.pdf