Fertility experts reassure women on vaccine safety
Leading fertility expert Associate Professor Kate Stern and infectious diseases physician Professor Michelle Giles say the science is clear – COVID-19 vaccination is safe for women planning pregnancy and those undergoing fertility treatment.
Many women who are trying to get pregnant or who are early in their pregnancy are concerned about COVID vaccination according to A/Prof Kate Stern, Head of Fertility Preservation and Reproductive Services at the Royal Women’s Hospital.
“So many of our patients are saying ‘I’m so scared about the vaccine’ when they should in fact be worried about getting COVID if they’re unvaccinated,” she said.
“There’s a lot of data out there and we can be really confident saying to our patients not only is vaccination safe for you in early or late pregnancy, but it’s the best thing you can do for your future baby too.”
It’s reassuring news for the thousands of Australians who undergo IVF treatment every year and the individuals and couples who welcome almost 300,000 babies annually.
Professor Michelle Giles, an infectious diseases specialist at the Women’s and Deputy Chair of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), said international research had now followed more than 25,000 pregnancies through to completion, with many thousands more continuing to be followed up.
“Women have been followed throughout pregnancy, so either they’ve been vaccinated before conceiving, or in the first, second or third trimester of pregnancy and those outcomes of pregnancy have been recorded. There hasn’t been any increased risk of adverse outcomes – no abnormalities in any babies, no increased risk of miscarriage, and no increased risk of preterm birth,” she said.
“Whereas pregnant women who get COVID are much more likely to be admitted to hospital, much more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit, much more likely to need assistance with ventilation and much more likely to have a baby born prematurely.”
A/Prof Stern said research from multiple studies had not shown any impact from COVID vaccines on fertility.
“There is no evidence of bad effects from the vaccine on eggs, there is no evidence of bad effects from the vaccine on sperm. There is now very reassuring data that having the vaccine will not affect the success of a pregnancy being created either in the laboratory or spontaneously, so we know that COVID vaccination will not affect your ability to get pregnant, and it will not affect the health of your embryo,” she said.
Both Professor Giles and A/Prof Stern said women should feel confident in protecting both themselves, and their future babies, with a vaccination.
“We understand that our patients want the best information before they make a decision about having a vaccine. We respect that and the most important thing is that our patients can get accurate, scientifically validated information,” A/Prof Stern said.
“The only tool that we really have to protect women is vaccination and it’s really important to remember that COVID is much more dangerous to mother and baby than the vaccine which protects them,” said Professor Giles.