The Covid vaccines and your fertility
There has been a lot of misinformation about the effects of Covid vaccines on fertility and understandably many people have questions.
Medical experts and scientists agree that there is no evidence the vaccines affect fertility
Pregnant women in the UK have now been advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that they can get the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, because there is more real-world data from the US to show they are safe. Around 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated in the US, without any safety concerns being raised. Currently there is no evidence to suggest that the other vaccines, including Oxford/AstraZeneca, are unsafe for pregnant women but more research is needed.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is an independent expert advisory committee that advises UK health departments on vaccines. Check out their latest guidance on Covid vaccination and pregnancy here:
Frequently Asked Questions
Do the vaccines affect fertility?
There is no evidence that the Covid vaccines can affect the fertility of women or men. Pregnant women were not routinely advised to have the vaccine because they were excluded from the initial Covid vaccine clinical trials. Even though participants were asked to avoid becoming pregnant, 57 pregnancies occurred across the trials of the three vaccines approved for use in the UK according to Nature Reviews Immunology.
Should I get the vaccine if I am thinking about having a baby?
If you are trying for a baby, there is nothing in the current UK government guidance to say that you should not have a Covid vaccine. The JCVI has said there is no need for women to delay pregnancy after having the Covid vaccine. Whether you are thinking about having a baby in the near future or in a few years’ time, you are still advised to take the vaccine when invited to do so.
If you are pregnant can you have the vaccine?
In the UK, the JCVI have said pregnant women can get a Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, as recent real-world data from the US has shown they are safe. There is no evidence to suggest the Covid vaccines are harmful in pregnancy, and more studies are underway of pregnant women who receive the vaccine.
None of the Covid vaccines contain the live virus and so there is no risk that pregnant women or their babies could get Covid-19 from the vaccine. It is common for pregnant women to receive non-live virus vaccines, such as the flu vaccine, in pregnancy to protect themselves and their baby.
Covid vaccines are effective in protecting people from severe illness from Covid-19. Although uncommon, there is an increased risk of severe illness due to Covid-19 infection in later stage pregnancy. If you are pregnant, you should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with your doctor, nurse or midwife, including the latest evidence on safety and which vaccines you can receive.
If you are breastfeeding can you have the vaccine?
Clinical trials have not yet looked at the safety of Covid vaccines for people who are breastfeeding or their babies. But Covid vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. Studies have shown that antibodies from getting the Covid vaccine are passed to the baby during breastfeeding (as expected) which means your baby is likely to have some protection from Covid-19 infection. As the benefits of breastfeeding are well known, the JCVI along with the World Health Organization has recommended that you can have the vaccine whilst breastfeeding.
What do the experts say?
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 Chair for JCVI:
‘’We encourage pregnant women to discuss the risks and benefits with their clinician – those at increased risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19 are encouraged to promptly take up the offer of vaccination when offered. There have been no specific safety concerns from any brand of Covid vaccines in relation to pregnancy. There is more real-world safety data from the US in relation to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in women who are pregnant – therefore, we advise a preference for these to be offered to pregnant women.’’
The British Fertility Society and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists: “There is absolutely no evidence, and no theoretical reason, that any of the vaccines can affect the fertility of women or men.”
Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: “We want to reassure women that there is no evidence to suggest that Covid vaccines will affect fertility. There is no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women’s fertility. Evidence has not been presented that women who have been vaccinated go on to have fertility problems.”
Your doctor, nurse or midwife looking after you in pregnancy will be able to advise you considering your individual risk and answer any questions about having the Covid vaccine.
- Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists pregnancy information sheet