What should you know (Updated 4/8/21)

A statement from prenatal health care providers at UCSF:

Although preventive measures (universal masking, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and prompt testing with isolation and contact tracing) can significantly decrease the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 illness, the consensus among experts is that only an effective COVID-19 vaccine will end the pandemic. Despite the categorization of pregnancy as a high-risk condition for severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and mortality, pregnancy remains an exclusion for participation in vaccine trials. However, there is no biological reason for the exclusion of pregnant or lactating patients from these trials.

At UCSF, in alignment with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, we recommend that pregnant patients have access to COVID-19 vaccines, and that they and their healthcare professional engage in shared decision-making regarding receipt of the vaccine. Counseling should balance available data on vaccine safety, risks to pregnant patients from SARS-CoV-2 infection, and an individual's risk for infection and severe disease. mRNA vaccines, which are the first vaccines available, do not contain a live virus but rather induce an immune response through the use of viral mRNA. The theoretical risk of fetal harm from mRNA vaccines is very low, and emerging data supports this. Same is true for the adenovirus vaccine.

Many industries, such as healthcare, are offering the COVID vaccine to their workforce. Patients who are pregnant and are also healthcare workers at UCSF will have access to the vaccine. Our hope at UCSF is to offer the COVID vaccine to all patients in the near future.

COVID-19 Vaccine Access

UCSF and the state of California Department of Public Health are currently vaccinating patients who are under 65 and have co-morbidities (other conditions that increase vulnerability to the COVID-19 virus, and pregnancy is included in this list). This group is in addition to healthcare workers, those who are 65 and older, and those who work in education, childcare, food & agriculture, or as first responders.

We are in favor of pregnant and lactating patients accessing the vaccine if they have an opportunity (through us or any other site!). For more information on the UCSF plan to roll out vaccinations, please visit the UCSF COVID-19 Vaccine Information Hub.

Here are the current steps to find a vaccination center and appointment:

Common COVID-19 Side Effects

The most common known side effects of COVID vaccine are arm soreness at the injection site, general muscle aches, fatigue, joint pain and chills. Fever is less common. A persistent high fever (>102F) is a very rare side effect. In the first trimester an untreated high fever may increase the risk of fetal abnormalities and miscarriage. If planning on vaccination, monitor yourself for fever and if you feel feverish, you can safely manage these symptoms with acetaminophen (Tylenol). Follow the manufacturer's recommended dosing. Please do not take this before your vaccine, only afterwards if symptomatic. Please do not take Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) if pregnant.

Check your temperature 1-1.5 hours after taking the medication. If the fever does not respond to medication or your fever continues for more than 24 hours, please contact UCSF Obstetrics at (415) 353-2566 (Monday-Friday 8 am-4 pm) or (415) 353-1787 (nights and weekends). In the exceedingly rare scenario in which you think you’re having an anaphylactic reaction (inability to breathe or throat swelling), please call 911 and seek medical care immediately.

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions

1. Which vaccine should I choose?

The Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson‌ (Janssen) vaccines are some of the most effective vaccines ever produced, including against current COVID-19 variants.

  • All three vaccines are overwhelmingly effective at significantly reducing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. The best vaccine is the one that is available to you.

  • Comparing effectiveness rates of the three vaccines is like comparing apples to oranges. Each was tested in different clinical settings, time of year, and places where there were or were not variants.

  • You can listen to Dr. Peter Chin-Hong’s (infectious disease physician at UCSF) take on the three vaccines on this NPR segment here.

  • At most sites, you do not have a choice to select which vaccine you will receive. There may be the opportunity to select a “single dose” vaccine, which is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

2. Can I still get COVID-19 if I’m vaccinated?

  • Just like other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing you from getting COVID-19, but ‌they do significantly reduce your risk of severe illness and need for hospitalization.

3. Can I get COVID-19 from getting the vaccine?

  • No. The vaccines won't give you COVID-19.

  • The vaccines play an important role in ending the pandemic. Having more people vaccinated will reduce the development and spread of viral variants.

4. I’m pregnant. When should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • There is no recommendation on which trimester to receive the vaccine; it is best to get it at your first opportunity. The only limitation to keep in mind is that if you have received or are planning to receive the TDaP (Tetanus, Diptheria, and acellular Pertussis) vaccine between 27-36 weeks, the COVID-19 vaccine should be received 14 days apart from TDaP.

  • If you don’t have the opportunity to time your vaccines, it’s ok! You don’t have to get the vaccines again. The main reason for spreading the vaccines is to ensure that side effects are attributed correctly.

  • Certain pregnant patients need to get RhoGAM at 28 weeks. This injection can be given at any time, and is not a vaccine. You do not have to space this shot with your COVID-19 vaccine.

5. Should I take Acetaminophen ahead of the vaccine to prevent fever?

  • No, we do not recommend taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) ahead of the vaccine to prevent fever. Monitor your symptoms after vaccination and take acetaminophen as needed if you develop a fever.

General Information about COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccines, Pregnancy and Lactation

COVID-19 Vaccines and Fertility

COVID-19 Research Studies Enrolling At UCSF: