The COVID vaccine and pregnancy – everything Australian women need to know
As Australia braces for the COVID vaccine rollout next month, little is known about its effect on both pregnant women and those planning a family.
Misinformation and pseudoscience from unlicensed sources, often online, has plagued the coronavirus pandemic as a whole.
Myths about the vaccine affecting fertility and being “unsafe” for pregnant women abound on the internet.
So, 7NEWS.com.au spoke to expert Dr Allison Imrie about how vaccines affect pregnant women to get clear information about how this group should proceed.
The big players – Pfizer, AstraZeneca and the federal government – contributed so that woman can find out the facts, from the professionals themselves – removing the hearsay.
How does the vaccine work?
Imrie, Associate Professor at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Western Australia, has explained how the COVID vaccine will work.
“The COVID-19 vaccines work by the same principles as other modern vaccines – they are designed to be versions of the microbe (SARS-CoV-2 in this case) that infects us and causes serious disease and death,” she said.
“When we are infected with these dangerous microbes (viruses or bacteria) our immune responses are activated, and immune cells produce antibodies and other molecules that protect us from the disease.
“Some of these immune cells can last in our bodies for many years (as memory cells) and when you encounter the microbe again, they are ready to clear the infection and protect you from disease and perhaps death.”
She said a vaccine is designed to do the same same thing – it gives you protection.
It’s a version of the microbe that’s safe and doesn’t cause the disease but “activates the immune response to produce immune cells that produce antibodies and other molecules that are protective”.
“When you then encounter SARS-CoV-2 in real life, you already have protection and can fight off the infection,” she said.
What about the effect on pregnant women?
She said vaccines are currently being tested on pregnant women and the result of these studies will be available soon.
“We know that pregnant people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 are at greater risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease, and to die, compared to other groups,” she said.