The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed COVID-19 vaccinations during pregnancy, citing data that suggested vaccine recipients would receive no increased risk of miscarriage, according to an updated web page on the agency's website.
The CDC also recommends vaccines for people who are breastfeeding, attempting to have a pregnancy, or planning on becoming pregnant in the future.
In other words, the data says life will go on.
CDC issues new COVID-19 vaccine guidance for pregnant people
The new guidance comes on the heels of a study that found no increased risk of miscarriage among recipients of the vaccine in their first 20 weeks of gestation. Earlier, the CDC had merely listed the vaccine as optional for pregnant people, but the latest update strengthens the official endorsement, directly advising everyone currently gestating to get an approved vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus. The latest guidance places the CDC in agreement with another recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in addition to other health-intensive groups, all of which strongly endorsed vaccination for pregnant people.
"At this time, the benefits of vaccination, and the known risks of Covid during pregnancy and the high rates of transmission right now, outweigh any theoretical risks of the vaccine," said an epidemiologist named Sascha R. Ellington, who leads the emergency preparedness response team, of the CDC's division of reproductive health, in an initial New York Times report. But this doesn't mean getting jabbed while pregnant is without risks and side effects. Ellington emphasized that these are well-established, and include (on a spectrum of mild to terminal) severe illness, being admitted for intensive care, starting mechanical ventilation, giving birth prematurely, and dying.
Pregnant people hesitant about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
As of writing, data is scarce on birth outcomes, noted Ellington in the NYTimes report. This lack of data is linked to the vaccine's nascent status, since it was only released to the public in December 2020, less than a year ago. But, so far, the few pregnancies that included a COVID-19 vaccine came to full term, and experienced no safety issues. This new guidance is also significant because pregnant women weren't part of the clinical trials for the vaccines, and gestating people have been among the least populous of vaccine recipients. Most pregnant women are unsure about getting jabbed: Less than one-quarter (23%) of pregnant women had undergone one or more doses of a vaccine as of May, according to the study.
However, while major entities, health officials, and government agencies recommend pregnant people get a COVID-19 vaccine, there remains uncertainty about how exposure to synthetic chemicals might potentially affect the development of their children in the long term, which isn't, strictly speaking, completely irrational. A more comprehensive dataset may not be available until the offspring of vaccinated pregnant people grow up and live a full life, but, if we're to judge from other vaccines in history — it's more likely than not that they will be fine.
This was a developing story and was regularly updated as new information became available.