These COVID-19 vaccine FAQs have been designed to address common queries relating to women’s health.

Please also see our other COVID-19 FAQs for more information on other COVID-19 related topics:

For ease of reference, information has been categorised as per the below themes:

This page will be updated on a regular basis as further information becomes available regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

For questions that have not been addressed on this page or our dedicated COVID-19 resource page, please email info.mvec@mcri.edu.au for further clarification.

Planning pregnancy

Pregnancy

  • Can COVID-19 vaccines be given during pregnancy?

    Yes. Due to an increased risk of severe outcomes for pregnant women and their unborn babies it is recommended that pregnant women are routinely offered Comirnaty™ at any stage of pregnancy. Pregnant women who did not receive COVID-19 vaccines prior to conception, are prioritised to receive COVID-19 vaccines during their pregnancy as part of Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout.

    Whilst pregnant women were not included in the initial clinical trials, surveillance of international data on mRNA COVID-19 vaccine administration in pregnant women has shown no significant safety concerns for either the mother or the baby. Further to this, antibodies have been detected in the cord blood and breastmilk of vaccinated women, suggesting a transfer of protection to the baby.

    For more information please refer to:

  • Does pregnancy on its own (excluding other medical risk factors) meet the current priority group eligibility criteria for a COVID-19 vaccination ?

    Yes. Pregnant women are at a greater risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection and are therefore prioritised for vaccination as part of Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout.

  • Is there a preferred stage of pregnancy to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

    Pregnant women can be offered an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during any stage of pregnancy. Data obtained from international surveillance of large numbers of pregnant women receiving COVID-19 vaccines has not indicated a preferred gestation for administration, and indicates that vaccination is safe and efficacious during any stage of pregnancy.

  • Are there risks of long-term effects to babies we don’t know about yet given the lack of longitudinal data?

    Evidence obtained from international surveillance of pregnant women receiving COVID-19 vaccines has shown no unexpected outcomes (above background rates) for pregnancies or for infants when followed up to 3 months of age. Side effects experienced following vaccination are consistent with the expected side effects reported in non-pregnant vaccine recipients.

    Long term follow-up of pregnant women who receive a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy, and their infants, is ongoing.

    For more information refer to:

  • Can pregnant women receive their whooping cough, influenza and COVID-19 vaccines on the same day?

    An interval of at least 7 days between COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines is recommended. This interval can be shortened in some circumstances, such as during a COVID-19 outbreak or logistical issues with timing visits to maintain the 7 day minimum. There have been no safety concerns flagged with shorter intervals between vaccines, noting there is a lack of data on co-administration of COVID-19 vaccines with vaccines also recommended in pregnancy (influenza and whooping cough).

    For further information on vaccines recommended in pregnancy, refer to MVEC: Maternal vaccinations in pregnancy.

     

  • Are pregnant women who are classified as high-risk of thrombosis and on anticoagulant therapy recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

    It is recommended that all pregnant women are offered a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine (Comirnaty™) due to a higher risk of severe disease if exposed to COVID-19. There is no evidence of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia (TTS) occurring following mRNA vaccines.  TTS is not related to the usual risk factors for developing thrombosis.

  • If a pregnant women received dose 1 of COVID-19 AstraZeneca prior to conception, which vaccine brand is recommended for dose 2?

    It is important that pregnant women are protected against COVID-19 due to the increased risk of severe outcomes for pregnant women (and their babies) compared with non-pregnant women of the same age.

    Two doses of COVID-19 vaccines are required for optimal protection against circulating strains. Women who are pregnant and have received one dose of COVID-19 AstraZeneca prior to conception can complete their vaccine course with either a dose of COVID-19 AstraZeneca or a dose of Comirnaty™ (which is preferred in pregnancy).

    There is growing evidence on the safety of mRNA vaccines when used in pregnancy and limited safety data on using viral vectored vaccines (eg. COVID-19 AstraZeneca). There is comparatively less data on the use of mixed schedules than completing a “traditional schedule” of the same brand. An individual discussion with an immunisation specialist may be warranted to assess the risks and benefits and determine which brand of vaccine is right for them.

    For further information, refer to COVID-19 vaccine – Clinical considerations: pregnant women

  • Are COVID-19 vaccines as effective in pregnant women as they are in non-pregnant women?

    Current evidence from international surveillance of COVID-19 vaccination of pregnant women has shown that pregnant women have a similar immune response to COVID-19 vaccines compared with non-pregnant women. Conversely pregnant women are at a greater risk of severe COVID-19 disease compared with non-pregnant women of the same age if exposed to COVID-19.

  • If a pregnant woman is vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine, does that provide any protection for the foetus?

    Research has demonstrated that in women who received COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy, antibodies against COVID-19 disease have been detected in breast milk and cord blood. This may offer some protection via passive immunity to the infant. The extent and duration of this transferred immunity is unknown

    For more information refer to the COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy.

  • Are pregnant adolescents < 16yo recommended to have a COVID-19 vaccine?

    Currently, COVID-19 vaccines are only available for pregnant women < 16 years.

    For further information refer to MVEC: COVID-19 vaccination in children.

Breastfeeding

Menstruation

  • I developed menorrhagia or amenorrhea following COVID-19 vaccination. Can I still receive dose 2?

    Yes. For optimal protection 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines is recommended.

    While formal studies on the menstrual patterns of COVID-19 vaccine recipients have not been conducted, changes in menstrual patterns were not reported by participants in initial vaccine clinical trials.

    A small study involving women of child-bearing age with confirmed COVID-19 infections investigated the effects of the illness on ovarian reserve, sex hormones and menstruation. A quarter of women reported changes in the volume of their periods; with 20% of participants reporting lighter periods and a further 19% reporting longer periods during their illness. These changes were shown to be more common in those with multisystem involvement in their illness. Menstrual changes resolved within 1-2 months of disease recovery. Sex hormones were not affected and it was concluded that transient effects of the illness were the likely cause of the changes.

    It is thought that any changes to menstrual cycles noticed by vaccine recipients are likely explained by factors such as stress, increased perceptions/attention to menstrual cycles or concurrent illnesses. Vaccines trigger an immune response and do not have any direct impact on the function of ovaries.

    For more information refer to CHOP- News & views: Reproductive health and COVID-19 vaccines.

Authors: Daryl Cheng (Medical Lead, MVEC), Nigel Crawford (Director SAEFVIC, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), Rachael McGuire (MVEC Education Nurse Coordinator) and Francesca Machingaifa (MVEC Education Nurse Coordinator).

Reviewed by: Rachael McGuire (MVEC Education Nurse Coordinator)

Date: July 27, 2021

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family’s personal health. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.