ACOG and CDC Now Recommend COVID-19 Vaccination for Pregnant People

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The CDC on August 11 echoed ACOG's advice, recommending that pregnant and breastfeeding individuals be vaccinated against COVID-19 based on new safety data.

Key Takeaways

  • The nation’s leading organization for OB-GYNs now recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant people.
  • This is a change from ACOG’s previous recommendation that suggested those who are pregnant be allowed to get the vaccine, if they wanted it.
  • Data so far indicates that the vaccine is safe for pregnant individuals.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the leading organization for OB-GYNs in the U.S., now recommends that pregnant people get the COVID-19 vaccine.

This is a change from previous guidance that stopped short of actually recommending the shot, saying pregnant individuals were allowed to get the vaccine, if they wanted it.

The new guidance, which was issued by both ACOG and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine on July 30, states that evidence demonstrating the safety of the vaccines in thousands of pregnant people, plus the rise in COVID-19 cases sparked the change in recommendation.

COVID-19 infections put pregnant people at an increased risk of severe complications and death, but only 22% of those who are pregnant have received one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

ACOG also cited the rise of the highly transmissible Delta variant as part of the reasoning for the update in guidance.

"Pregnant individuals who have decided to wait until after delivery to be vaccinated may be inadvertently exposing themselves to an increased risk of severe illness or death," the guidance reads. "Those who have recently delivered and were not vaccinated during pregnancy are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Now, the organization is encouraging its community of OB-GYNs to enthusiastically recommend vaccination to their patients.

“ACOG is an incredibly well-respected organization and the recommendations are based on an large amount of evidence for safe use of the vaccine during pregnancy by pooling data from thousands and thousands of vaccinated pregnant women,” Women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, MD, tells Verywell. “With a new wave of sickness due to the Delta variant, it's imperative that pregnant women protect themselves by being encouraged to vaccinate.”

Experts Applaud the New Guidance

Wider calls the updated guidance “smart,” adding that, “studies have shown that COVID-19 and all of the circulating variants increase the risks of complications and potentially mortality to a pregnant woman and developing fetus.”

“I have people ask me about this all the time,” Christine Greves, MD, a board-certified OB-GYN at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando, Florida, tells Verywell. “Originally, we didn’t know much about the vaccine in pregnant patients. We’re still learning. However, we know that if you don’t get the vaccine, there’s a higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19 as opposed to getting the vaccine.”

Greves urges pregnant people on the fence about the vaccine to consider the risks of remaining unvaccinated. “If you get it and are not vaccinated, you have a risk of serious complications,” she says. “This is real.”

What This Means For You

If you are pregnant and not vaccinated against COVID-19, getting the shot can protect you and your baby from future infection, as well as serious complications from the virus. If you have concerns about getting vaccinated, talk to your OB-GYN.

The Research Backs This Up

While research on the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine on pregnant people is ongoing, several studies suggest the vaccine is safe for use in pregnant people.

A New England Journal of Medicine analysis published in June of 35,691 people in the V-Safe registry aged 16 to 54 years who said they were pregnant found that there were no “obvious safety signals among pregnant persons who received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.”

Vaccination may benefit babies in the womb, too.

A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in March analyzed data from 131 women of reproductive age who were vaccinated, including 84 pregnant women, 31 breastfeeding women, and 16 non-pregnant women.

Researchers analyzed antibodies in the womens' blood and breast milk (if they were breastfeeding) at baseline and then two to six weeks after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The researchers discovered that the antibodies created by the vaccine in pregnant and breastfeeding women were “significantly higher” than those that were made after a COVID-19 infection during pregnancy. The antibodies were also detected in umbilical cord blood and breast milk samples, which suggests they could be passed on to babies.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding.

  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG and SMFM Recommend COVID-19 Vaccination for Pregnant Individuals.

  3. Shimabukuro T, Kim S, Myers T et al. Preliminary Findings of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons. New England Journal of Medicine. 2021;384(24):2273-2282. doi:10.1056/nejmoa2104983

  4. Gray K, Bordt E, Atyeo C et al. Coronavirus disease 2019 vaccine response in pregnant and lactating women: a cohort study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2021. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2021.03.023

By Korin Miller
Korin Miller is a health and lifestyle journalist who has been published in The Washington Post, Prevention, SELF, Women's Health, The Bump, and Yahoo, among other outlets.