Covid-19 vaccines are recommended in pregnancy even after infection
We have been asked via WhatsApp about whether it is recommended that pregnant women have the Covid-19 vaccines if they have already experienced Covid-19 infection during pregnancy.
Dr Pat O’Brien, consultant obstetrician and Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told Full Fact: “We urge all pregnant women to get fully vaccinated against Covid-19, including their third booster dose when they are eligible, regardless of any previous Covid-19 infection”.
He added that being infected with Covid-19 does give a level of natural immunity, but said that we do not know how long this immunity lasts.
Dr Alison Cave, chief safety officer at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, told Full Fact: “Pregnant women who have previously had a Covid-19 infection should still take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Covid-19 infections can be very severe in pregnancy, particularly if women get infected in the third trimester of pregnancy or if they have underlying medical problems [...]. Based on our robust safety monitoring, women can be reassured that Covid-19 vaccines are safe in pregnancy and there is no increased risk of pregnancy complications, miscarriage or stillbirth.
“We would encourage all pregnant women, including those who have previously had a Covid-19 infection, to take up the Covid-19 vaccines as soon as possible to boost immunity and protect themselves, their baby and others from further infection.”
The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which has taken over certain functions of Public Health England, also told Full Fact that because immunity from natural infection wanes over time, it is important to get the vaccine in order to ensure that you have maximal protection while pregnant.
In a World Health Organisation (WHO) podcast, WHO Chief Scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan also explained that immunity after infection “varies from person to person”, and may also depend on how severe the infection was. She added that studies have shown that people who have had mild or asymptomatic infections may form lower levels of antibodies.
Therefore, she says, the WHO still recommends vaccination after Covid-19 infection.
Currently in the UK, it is advised that adults and high risk children wait 28 days after a positive test for Covid-19, or 28 days after symptoms start, to have the vaccine.
In children and young people who are not in high risk groups, a longer interval of 12 weeks is recommended (although this may vary in some scenarios).
The information included in this article contains the latest evidence and official guidance available at the time it was written. This is not a substitute for medical advice. If you require specific medical advice please consult your GP or midwife.