The COVID vaccine is officially rolling out across Australia. While it will take a while to get through to the general public, you may be wondering what this vaccine means for your growing family, especially if you are breastfeeding, pregnant or are planning to have more children in the not-too-distant future.
We have gathered the most recent data to help you make an informed decision.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for breastfeeding mums?
According to the Australian Government Department of Health:
- Breastfeeding women can receive the Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccination at any time.
- Breastfeeding women do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after the vaccination.
- There is no evidence that breastfeeding women have an increased risk of complications from COVID-19 compared to women who are not breastfeeding.
Okay, so no evidence of complication is great, right?
Except for one major concern: Breastfeeding women were excluded from all trials. It appears there is no evidence quite simply because they have not been tested.
We assume it’s safe, but there actually isn’t any concrete evidence on what impacts it could have on breastmilk and breastfed babies.
As the Department of Health writes,
Comirnaty [the name of the vaccine] has not yet been tested in breastfeeding women, but there are no concerns about its safety in breastfeeding women or their babies.
The ABA has also weighed in on this.
What is known so far about vaccines and breastfeeding generally, and about the COVID-19 vaccines specifically, suggests that where there is a risk of COVID-19 infection, the benefits of vaccination of breastfeeding women outweighs the risks.
Without specific research, disproportionate responsibility is put on breastfeeding women to weigh the risks of being vaccinated against the risks of not being vaccinated.
Breastfeeding women in Australia may choose to wait until research from countries like the UK and USA, where breastfeeding women are being vaccinated, becomes available.”
What about expecting mums?
For pregnant mums, the message is much clearer:
- If you are pregnant, DO NOT get the COVID-19 vaccine (unless under certain circumstances such as medical risk or you are at a high risk of exposure).
Why steer clear of the COVID-19 vaccine if pregnant?
Pregnant women were excluded from the initial trials and thus there is not enough data to deem whether the vaccine is safe for pregnant women and their unborn babies.
So, to clear things up:
- There have been no vaccine trials that include breastfeeding mums. Despite this, breastfeeding mums are encouraged to have the vaccine.
- There have been no vaccine trials that include pregnant mums. Due to this, pregnant mums are NOT encouraged to have the vaccine.
We’re a bit confused too.
Pregnant trials taking place
The good news for pregnant mums or parents looking to add to their family is that there is a clinical trial taking place right now which includes 11 pregnant women.
As of 14 November 2020, their pregnancies are ongoing, and medical experts continue to follow their pregnancies. Medical experts will get more safety information on pregnant women who have chosen to have a COVID-19 vaccine since the vaccines have been available. This will likely be available from countries, like the USA or UK, in the future.”
The bottom line?
At Mum Central we firmly support vaccinations. But we also believe mums need access to as much information as possible, including vaccine trials that include breastfeeding women. Hopefully, we will have access to this information sooner, rather than later.
We’d love to know what you are planning to do if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Will you get the vaccine or hold off?
You can check out the full COVID-19 Vaccination guide here.