COVID-19 Vaccine

Date: October 2023, Version 9.0

What are COVID-19 vaccines?

COVID-19 vaccines work by training your immune system to recognise the ‘spike’ protein on the outside of the COVID-19 virus and to fight off the infection. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain live coronavirus, and therefore vaccination cannot give you COVID-19.

Pregnant women are a priority group for COVID vaccination and will be offered a 2023 autumn booster. Vaccination is the best way to protect against the risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy for women and their babies.


What are the benefits of having the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy?

Pregnant women are at higher risk of developing severe complications if they become infected with COVID-19, particularly in late pregnancy.

Risks of complications from COVID-19 are higher for women from some ethnic minority groups, those aged 35 or older, those who are overweight or obese, and women with pre-existing medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma and diabetes.

Women who experience severe complications from COVID-19 in pregnancy have a higher chance of stillbirth, of having a smaller baby, and of delivering their baby prematurely.

COVID-19 vaccines reduce the chance of becoming unwell and of needing hospital treatment. Through reducing the risk of severe illness, some studies have also shown that vaccination decreases the risk of stillbirth and premature delivery, and that booster doses may decrease the risk even further.


Are there any risks of having the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy?

No. Studies of large numbers of women have found that COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy does not increase the risk of:

•    Miscarriage
•    Birth defects
•    Stillbirth
•    Preterm delivery
•    Problems with the baby’s growth
•    The baby dying, having other medical complications, or needing hospital treatment in the first month of life

There is no known risk with using any non-live vaccines in pregnancy, and the UK COVID-19 vaccines are non-live.

Pregnant women do not appear to get more side effects from the vaccine compared to non-pregnant women.


Are there any alternatives to having a COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy?

COVID-19 vaccines are the most effective option for reducing the chance of severe COVID-19. Although antiviral medications can help to treat severe COVID-19, there is less information on the safety of these medications in pregnancy.

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What if I prefer not to have a COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy?

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all pregnant women to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 as well as pregnancy complications including stillbirth and preterm delivery. The safety information about the vaccines is very reassuring.

All pregnant women in the UK should be offered an autumn COVID-19 booster vaccination and can decide if having it is right for them.

What is the latest guidance about COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy?

All the latest advice about COVID-19 in pregnancy is available from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists here.

The UK Health Security Agency have published advice which is available here.
NHS guidance is available here.

NHS guidance is available here.

Will my baby need extra monitoring?

All pregnant women in the UK are offered a detailed anomaly scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy as part of routine antenatal care. No extra monitoring for major birth defects is required following COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has received the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination in the father can harm the baby through effects on the sperm.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding the information in this leaflet, please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from

How can I help to improve drug safety information for pregnant women in the future?

Our online reporting system (MyBump Portal) allows women who are currently pregnant to create a secure record of their pregnancy, collected through a series of questionnaires. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, your pregnancy outcome and your child's development. You can update your details at any time during pregnancy or afterwards. This information will help us better understand how medicines affect the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please visit the MyBump Portal to register.

General information
Sadly, miscarriage and birth defects can occur in any pregnancy.

Miscarriage occurs in about 1 in every 5 pregnancies, and 1 in every 40 babies are born with a birth defect. This is called the ‘background risk’ and happens whether medication is taken or not.

Most medicines cross the placenta and reach the baby. For many medications this is not a problem. However, some medicines can affect a baby’s growth and development.

If you take regular medication and are planning to conceive, you should discuss whether your medicine is safe to continue with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant. If you have an unplanned pregnancy while taking a medicine, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please make sure that the person prescribing it knows that you are pregnant. If you have any concerns about a medicine, you can check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

Our Bumps information leaflets provide information about the effects of medicines in pregnancy so that you can decide, together with your healthcare provider, what is best for you and your baby.