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Covid-19 and pregnancy

FAQs

Is the Covid-19 vaccine safe?

Yes! The Covid-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant women. 

Check out this excellent video by Dr Michelle Wise for more information.

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The Pfizer vaccine has been thoroughly assessed for safety by our own Medsafe experts and international medical safety agencies.
Medsafe only grants consent for using a vaccine in Aotearoa once they’re satisfied it has met strict standards for safety, efficacy and quality. This is the same process used to assess medicines and other vaccines, like the flu vaccine.
There have been no shortcuts taken in granting approval. The Pfizer vaccine has been used successfully by millions worldwide. Ongoing monitoring for safety continues.
Global data from the large number of pregnant people already vaccinated shows there are no additional safety concerns if you are pregnant. There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage during pregnancy.

If you have further questions, take a look at this video by the Royal College for Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for more information.

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What’s in the Pfizer vaccine?

It is made up of chemicals and ingredients that include very small amounts of fats, salts and sugars. It does not contain any live, dead or deactivated viruses or any animal products. It cannot give you COVID-19.

What are the side effects?

Like all medicines, the vaccine might cause side effects for some people. Most side effects are mild and don’t last long — they're more common after the second dose.

They won’t stop you from having the second dose or going about your daily life.

In the clinical trials, common side effects were reported in every 1 in 10 to 1 in 100 people. These include pain or swelling where the injection was given, feeling tired, headache, muscle aches, chills and fever.

For more detailed information on less common side effects and what you can do if you get any, check out the Ministry of Health website.

Why should I get the vaccine?

The vaccine reduces the risk of severe infection from Covid-19.

Pregnant people who catch Covid-19 are:

  • much more likely to develop a severe infection. This is because pregnancy changes the way the body responds to infections.
  • more likely to need admission to an intensive care unit
  • more likely to require a ventilator for breathing support.

Pēpi/Babies

Covid-19 infection during pregnancy has increased risks for babies, including:

  • Being born by emergency Caesarean section
  • Being born early (prematurely)
  • Stillbirth.

After birth, babies can also catch Covid-19 from people in their home. Covid-19 infections in babies are dangerous as their immune systems are not developed enough to fight infections.

If people get the vaccine during pregnancy, they are able to give some of the protection to their babies. This improves the baby’s ability to fight a Covid-19 infection.

Is the vaccine effective?

The COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective if you have both doses. Studies show around 95% of people who have received both doses of the vaccine are protected against getting severe COVID-19 symptoms, which can lead to hospitalisation and sometimes death.
This means once you are fully vaccinated, you are far less likely to fall seriously ill and less likely to transmit the virus to others.

What about other vaccines in pregnancy?

You can still get other vaccinations you may need during your pregnancy, such as the flu vaccine, or whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine (Boostrix) from 16 weeks of pregnancy. There is no need for a gap between these vaccines and your COVID-19 vaccination.

Can I breastfeed if I have Covid-19?

Breastfeeding is strongly encouraged for all babies regardless of the Covid-19 status of their mum/whānau. High Covid-19 risk mums will be asked to wear a mask when handling and feeding their baby.

Why are we making changes during lockdown?

Although pregnant people are not more likely to catch Covid-19 than the average person, Covid-19 in pregnancy can be dangerous for mothers and their babies. Pregnant people who catch Covid-19 can become seriously unwell, particularly in the third trimester. Covid-19 transmission from mother to baby in pregnancy is rare and it does not change how a baby develops in pregnancy. However, pregnancy complications such as preterm birth, preeclampsia, emergency Caesarean birth, and stillbirth are more common in pregnant people with Covid-19.

We know that mask wearing, social distancing, handwashing, and limiting face-to-face contact reduces the spread of Covid-19. Reducing the number of people coming to clinics and hospitals reduces the risk that they may come into contact with someone with Covid-19. It also reduces the risk of our staff members contracting Covid-19. These things help us look after you better.