By Dr. Zaher Merhi
“I am gonna wait and see before I take my vaccine because I am trying to get pregnant” is a very common statement these days! As we learn more about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine, and as more vaccine is available to women, we are getting more inquiries about how the vaccine could potentially impact reproduction.
Women who get COVID-19 while pregnant are more likely to get admitted intubated, get admitted to the ICU, having preterm labor, and have a higher risk of death.
As of today, we know for a fact that the vaccine significantly lowers the risk of COVID-19 infection and its severe complications by 94%. During the original studies, some women did become pregnant after receiving the vaccine in a similar fashion to control women (those who did not receive the vaccine), indicating that there was no adverse impact on fertility.
Thus, we can conclude that data so far does not show any evidence that the vaccine can lead to subfertility among millions of women who have received the vaccines.
For women of reproductive age and those wishing to become pregnant, it is crucial to weigh the risks and benefits of receiving the vaccine. It has been recently recommended that the vaccine be available and given to pregnant women, to those who are trying to conceive, and to those who are breastfeeding. In women at high risk, such as teachers and health care providers, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh significantly the risks, if any, for most pregnant women and those trying to conceive.
Indeed, not taking the vaccine and risking having the COVID-19 infection during pregnancy in high-risk women could be more damaging to the health than receiving the vaccine.
I have two questions:
If the virus itself does not cause infertility, why would the vaccine cause infertility? Secondly, if a pregnant woman gets vaccinated during pregnancy, do the “good” antibodies pass on to her baby and ultimately protect the baby?
Even though pregnant women were not included in the original vaccine trials, there are currently active studies pertaining to this subject and we should get final answers really soon (hopefully with reassuring outcomes).