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Vaccinations and Pregnancy – Elisa’s story

During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been times when people have found it difficult to make sense of all the information and advice that is out there. COVID explained was designed to make simple the latest guidance for people across Yorkshire and the Humber, from information about symptoms and testing, to self-isolation and vaccinations.

One subject that has caused worry and concern for many is that of vaccination and pregnancy, from what being vaccinated might mean for those women who are breastfeeding to concerns about any potential impacts on fertility. Any questions you might have can be answered through the guidance offered by the NHS and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and we also wanted to use our campaign to share the real life experiences of some of the women we spoke to.

One such person was Elisa, who took the vaccine during the second trimester of her pregnancy with Harrison.

Elisa

“Whether or not to get the vaccine while pregnant was possibly the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make,” Elisa says.

“I did lots of research, I looked at the Green Book and other reputable sources of information like the NHS, WHO, and other global organisations’ websites. I learned about the vaccine itself and how it worked so I understood that it shouldn’t be able to cross the placenta and that there were even indications that my baby would be born with antibodies and that there would be even more benefits if I chose to breastfeed.”

COVID-19 vaccines have been used around the world by pregnant women and no safety concerns have been identified. The vaccines cannot give pregnant women or their baby COVID-19. And if you are thinking of trying for a baby, there is no evidence that the vaccine has any affect at all on fertility. Vaccinations are recommended in pregnancy, and you can get vaccinated against COVID-19 if you are pregnant and aged 18 or over.

“I even went out of my way to look for horror stories but couldn’t really find any!” Elisa continues. “In the end I talked everything through with my husband and we came to the decision that the very real risk catching COVID would pose to myself and my baby outweighed any potential unknown risk caused by having the vaccine. My family was also supportive of my decision which helped.”

What Elisa discovered is key to the advice on vaccines and pregnancy. They are recommended as being the best way of protecting women and babies from the risks of the virus, which can be more serious for pregnant women. These risks can include the admission of women to intensive care and even premature birth of the baby.

“As soon as I had received the vaccine I felt instant relief,” Elisa says.

“I knew for me it was the right decision. I was lucky to have a really smooth pregnancy and my baby boy Harrison was born at a healthy 8lb 4oz. He’s now seven weeks old and is gaining weight at a healthy rate. I have chosen to breastfeed which has the added bonus of passing on antibodies to him.”

For women who have given birth and are breastfeeding, there is also no reason to delay getting the vaccine, whether first or second dose, or the booster. Once again, it is not possible to catch COVID-19 through the vaccine or pass it on to your child, and it is the best protection against serious illness should you catch the virus, as well as reducing the amount of time you may feel unwell should you get COVID-19 and reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.

You can find out more about vaccinations here, including who can get the vaccine, how they work, and where you can book an appointment.