You probably already know how critical it is for pregnant women to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant women are at increased risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19, including needing to be admitted to intensive care, requiring a ventilator and even dying.
Having COVID-19 during pregnancy also raises 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 vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as anyone who hopes to get pregnant in the future.
However, many pregnant women still have not gotten their shots, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement this fall recommending “urgent action” to increase COVID-19 vaccination among moms-to-be.
In addition to strongly urging all pregnant women to get their initial COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC and other major medical organizations now also recommend that everyone ages 16 and older who have already been immunized get a booster shot.
Should moms-to-be roll up their sleeves for a third dose? Here’s what you need to know.
Can you get a COVID-19 booster shot if you’re pregnant?
Yes, many moms-to-be are currently eligible for a COVID-19 booster vaccine.
The CDC’s latest guidelines state that everyone ages 16 and older receive a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccine six or more months after their second dose.
The CDC also recommends booster shots for anyone who got a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine two or more months ago.
Experts note that since it’s also flu season and also critical to get your flu shot during pregnancy, pregnant patients should know that they can receive their flu and COVID-19 vaccines (either initial dose or booster) on the same day or within the same period.
Why is it so important to get a COVID-19 booster shot if you’re eligible?
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) all strongly recommend that those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant get immunized against COVID-19.
Vaccines help the body build up immunity against the virus that causes COVID-19, so if you face the actual virus in the future, your body will know how to fight it off more effectively. If you’re vaccinated, not only are you much less likely to develop COVID-19, but you’re more likely to experience mild symptoms from a breakthrough infection.
However, as with all vaccinations, protection from the COVID-19 vaccine may start to lessen over time. That’s why the CDC approved a booster shot for all adults, including pregnant women.
The emergence of the now-dominant Omicron variant has underscored the need to stay up-to-date on your immunizations and keep practicing prevention efforts, it says.
Not only will the booster give you added protection during pregnancy, it may help keep you safer in the early postpartum period. Pregnant women remain at higher risk for complications for at least 42 days after giving birth, the CDC notes.
What’s more, emerging research shows that babies may benefit from protective antibodies from their vaccinated moms in utero that could extend after birth. So a booster shot doesn’t just keep you and baby safe while you’re pregnant — it could also offer additional benefits for your little one after she’s born.