pregnancy

'Can I get the jab if I'm pregnant?' and 7 other fertility questions I've heard about the COVID vaccine.

Roll Up For WA
Thanks to our brand partner, Roll Up For WA

Earlier this year, I excitingly found out I was pregnant.   

By that time, those of us in NSW had been through the initial lockdown in early 2020, but since then (Victorians aside), we’d mostly been incredibly lucky in many ways. 

Some of my own friends who worked in healthcare got their COVID-19 vaccinations pretty swiftly, but it wasn’t immediately something on our ‘list of things to do’ for the rest of us. 

I’d known I was pregnant for about a month before we went into 106 days of lockdown, and looking back, I’m mortified at the ridiculous thoughts I had about getting vaccinated initially. 

If you followed me on Instagram during the last month on Sydney’s lockdown, you might be shocked to learn I was once vaccine-hesitant. 

When I say I was ‘vaccine-hesitant’, I mean I was one (of, I'm sure, MANY people) navigating my knee-jerk reaction and hesitancy just rooted in fear about its effect of my pregnancy, and my worry about the research being air-tight when it comes to pregnant people getting the jab. Despite… not doing any research myself.

But once a doctor laid out all the facts and I felt my mind was at ease, alongside the case numbers astronomically climbing higher per day, I felt more of a sense of urgency and got booked into get my COVID-19 vaccinations ASAP.

Once I felt reassured by a medical professional, I swung very promptly to be extremely pro-vax (and vocal about it to any and all family who would listen). And I still am, of course I am. 

I get teary thinking about how horrible that time was with rising case numbers and the lockdowns we've endured (Victoria, we see you). 

I shared getting my COVID-19 vaccine on my Instagram, because I was grateful, and bloody proud. 

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And while of course, there were a few... interesting people who felt the need to ‘pray for my baby’ (I kindly asked them just to pray he was born clever, thank you very much) – mostly, people thanked me.

They thanked me for getting the COVID vax, thanked me for doing my part in protecting the community, and thanked me for sharing it loudly! But I also got SO MANY direct messages on my Instagram.

Messages from women who were pregnant or trying to get pregnant, who were scared or anxious, or hesitant. And I get it. I get all the fears you may have and I’m going to address many of them with the help of the experts in medical science and research, from our friends running the WA Government initiative, Roll Up For WA.

The pandemic has affected us in many significant ways, and each of us have our own story to share. To continue on a safe path out of this pandemic, it's up to each individual to roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccination to protect yourself, and your communities.

Before we dive in, I want to reassure you that although I am only one person, with my own experience. If the question was on your mind: after my vaccination, I am completely fine, and my baby is fine. We’re great, actually, because both of us are more protected from experiencing the full symptoms of the virus, and so are both armed and on our way out of this pandemic, too.

Below are some of the most common questions I continue to be asked myself as a pregnant person, and also some questions I've heard myself about vaccines and pregnancy and fertility.

Should I get the vaccine if I’m already pregnant?

Please get vaccinated if you are. Unless your doctor advises otherwise.

From one mother-to-be to another, we need to protect our little ones. 

Image: Supplied.

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I booked in as soon as I found out that pregnant women have a higher risk of severe illness if they are infected with COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women of the same age. 

When you look overseas, in countries where COVID-19 has taken hold, unvaccinated pregnant women are sadly fighting for their lives in hospital. The UK is also reporting nearly 1 in 5 critically ill patients in their ICUs are unvaccinated pregnant women.

There is also an increased risk of complications for the baby during pregnancy. That is why it's so important to be vaccinated. 

If you’re expecting, you are actually in a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination with mRNA vaccines, and are encouraged to discuss the decision in relation to the timing of vaccination with your health professional. 

Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.

Will the vaccine cause infertility?

Nope. 

The doctors wouldn’t give it to us if it did. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently under review by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) cause infertility. And can I tell you, the TGA is STRICT. 

(Incredibly so, I’m still waiting on some skincare to be mailed to me, but they’re currently approving an ingredient in there. They don't miss a trick.)

Sorry, not relevant, but they are super strict and will not approve a vaccine for use in Australia unless it is safe and effective. This includes ensuring it doesn’t cause any issues with fertility.

So, is the vaccine safe?

Of COURSE it bloody well is!

Vaccines are only allowed in Australia after being tested and found to be safe and effective. 

All vaccines continue to be quality tested and monitored for safety. Speak to your doctor and ask for more information on vaccine safety, and the latest rigorous testing and research that has been done on the vaccine of your choice.

But how did they make it so quickly when other vaccines have taken so long? 

Because COVID-19 meant they had to. It literally shut the world down, so creating a COVID-19 vaccine meant many people around the world worked together like never before, so you bet that incredible process was accelerated.

They also had much more funding than usual from different governments contributing to a vaccination solution. This has allowed scientists to complete years of work in just months, without missing any steps. 

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What if I get symptoms? 

Many vaccines carry risks of common symptoms, and the majority of people, according to the Australian and global research available to us, are completely fine. 

I personally felt lethargic for a day after my second dose, but I was absolutely fine the next day and have been ever since. And ALL my family and friends have similar experiences. Of course, every individual body will react differently.

Most vaccines have mild and short-term side effects. Side effects are usually a welcome sign that your immune system is responding to the vaccine!

In Western Australia, about 50 per cent of people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine to date report experiencing some mild symptoms like the below:

  • Pain, redness and/or swelling where you received the needle

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle and/or joint ache

  • Mild fever.

When they occur, these symptoms typically start within 24 hours of vaccination, last one to two days, and resolve without treatment.

Serious reactions like allergic reactions are extremely rare. If you have a reaction that is unexpected, or if you are unsure, consult with your GP.

Though, it goes without saying: if you believe your reaction is severe or life-threatening, you should call triple zero (000) for an ambulance or go to your closest emergency department.

Can I get COVID from the vaccine?

Absolutely not. 

The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain live viruses and cannot give it to you.

The vaccines are very clever and they (in laymen's terms) pretend to be the real virus and teach your body how to defend itself. This will help stop you from getting really sick and going to the hospital.

I read somewhere that the vaccine has a microchip in it?

I’m sure you’ve also been told you’re an ‘instant cash winner’ too!

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet from untrustworthy, unchecked websites.

Look for information that comes from reputable sources... not unusual blogs full of spelling errors that you may come across on the 4th page of your Google search. Or even, your own Facebook feed.

They can contain dangerous misinformation. A microchip would not fit through a vaccine needle; this silly myth is based on a fake video circulating on social media. 

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What about the vaccine changing my DNA?

Not possible! Just like the microchip conspiracy, some silly and VERY bored person has made that up. 

The vaccines deliver instructions to your cells to build protection (immunity) against the coronavirus. 

This does not happen in the part of your cells where your DNA is, and your cells permanently destroy the vaccine after the instructions are delivered. Science doesn’t lie, but unfortunately, humans spreading misinformation can. 

You saw how quickly we got the job done in NSW and Victoria, we absolutely nailed the vaccination game! 

So, if you're in other states and territories, please roll up your sleeves: don’t dilly-dally! These vaccines can get people protected, families reunited, and our wonderful country back up and running to its full, thriving capacity. 

You can get a COVID-19 vaccine at a variety of locations across Western Australia, including GPs, pharmacies, respiratory clinics and Aboriginal Medical Services and community clinics.

No bookings are required at community clinics. 

The COVID-19 vaccine helps WA continue on a safe path out of the pandemic. Roll up for WA to protect yourself and the community. Go online to book your vaccination appointment.

If people have any concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine and their fertility or pregnancy, they should speak to their doctor for advice. The Roll Up For WA website has further information on the COVID-19 vaccine.

For further reading, and sources of research in this article, check out the Department of Health's Healthy WA FAQs, and the Australian Government's COVID-19 Guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy. 

Feature Image: Supplied/Instagram/@kelly_mccarren

Roll Up For WA
The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19, and those you love, is to get vaccinated. There are a lot of myths and misinformation out there about the COVID-19 vaccines. It's important to get the correct information from reliable sources and health professionals. For more information on having your COVID-19 vaccine search 'Roll up for WA.'