Are vaccines safe for pregnant women?
There is no evidence the vaccines cause a different reaction in pregnant women.
Side effects reported by expectant mothers are similar to those seen among non-pregnant women.
Real-world data does, however, show mothers-to-be face a greater risk from Covid, especially if they get infected in their third trimester or have underlying health conditions.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists warn pregnant women are slightly more likely to give birth prematurely or suffer a stillbirth if they catch Covid.
And NHS chiefs last month revealed one in five Covid patients on ventilators were expectant mothers who had not been jabbed.
Could vaccines harm babies in the womb?
Experts have uncovered no proof that the jabs can harm babies in the womb — and insist there’s no reason to suspect they would either.
Covid vaccines do not contain ingredients that are known to be harmful to pregnant women or to a developing baby.
Nor do they contain organisms that can multiply in the body, so they cannot infect an unborn baby in the womb.
Studies of the vaccines in animals to look at the effects on pregnancy have shown no evidence jabs cause harm.
Research from six studies involving 40,000 women show the vaccines don’t raise the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, stillbirth, or the baby being born smaller than usual or with birth defects.
Miscarriages occur in 20 to 25 per cent of pregnancies in the UK, while stillbirths happen in one in every 200 pregnancies in Britain.
Can vaccines make it harder to get pregnant?
There is also no evidence the Covid vaccines hamper a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.
The Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists and the British Fertility Society says there is ‘absolutely no evidence, and no theoretical reason, that any of the vaccines can affect the fertility of women or men’.
But some concerns have been raised because thousands of women have recorded disrupted period after getting the jabs.
By February 2, the UK medicines watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), had received 50,060 reports of menstrual cycle side effects after first, second or third doses of the Covid jabs.
Nearly 72million Covid vaccines had been administered to women up to the same date.
The side effects included heavier or lighter bleeding than usual, as well as more painful periods. But the MHRA said the changes are ‘transient in nature’ — meaning they are short-lived.
Period problems are very common — with up to a quarter of women of childbearing age reporting them at any one time — and are often triggered by stress.
Why were vaccines not initially offered to pregnant women?
Like other vaccines and medicines, clinical trials of the Covid jabs did not include pregnant women.
This meant the UK’s vaccine advisers, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), did not have enough evidence to recommend pregnant women should get vaccinated when jabs were initially rolled out last winter.
But real-world data from the US — where 90,000 pregnant were given doses of Pfizer or Moderna — did not reveal any safety concerns.
So the JCVI advised that these jabs should be offered in the UK.
And subsequent studies show the jabs were just as effective in pregnant women as those who were not pregnant.