Vaccination is the best way to reduce your risk of becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19.
Research from around the world has shown that Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective if you are planning a family, pregnant, or breastfeeding. People aged 18 and older who cannot have these vaccines can have Novavax or AstraZeneca if benefits outweigh potential risks. Discuss COVID-19 vaccination with your health professional. For more information, visit the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy page.
There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have any impact on fertility. Getting vaccinated before conceiving will give you some protection against COVID-19 throughout your pregnancy, depending on when you were vaccinated. You do not need to avoid becoming pregnant before or after vaccination.
You are not required to have a pregnancy test before getting vaccinated.
If you are pregnant, COVID-19 vaccination can be given at any stage of pregnancy and is highly recommended as you and your unborn baby have a significantly higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection.
Research shows that the antibodies produced by vaccination cross the placenta and may provide some protection to newborn babies. This is the same for whooping cough and flu vaccines that have been given during pregnancy for many years.
You can continue breastfeeding before and after COVID-19 vaccination.
Vaccination schedule for people planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding.
For people aged 12 to 15:
- Primary course of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine: two doses given eight weeks apart
- Additional primary dose of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for people with severe immunocompromise, given two months after your second dose
- Booster dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people with severe immunocompromise, disability with complex health needs, or other complex health conditions that increase risk of severe COVID-19 illness, given three months after your primary course.
For people aged 16 and older:
- Primary course
- Third (booster) dose
- Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, given three months after your primary course. This includes the Moderna and Pfizer bivalent vaccine for ages 18 and older.
- Fourth (booster) dose is optional for people aged 30 to 49, but recommended for those who have a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness and people aged 50 and older. Speak with your GP to see if it is right for your individual health needs.
- If you are pregnant and 30 years and older, you are eligible for a fourth dose, following a discussion with your GP or regular medical provider.
Find out more about each vaccine, and what to expect before, during and after your vaccination.
Vaccination after COVID-19 infection
If you have had COVID-19 you should wait to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine three months after a positive COVID-19 test.
A three month gap between infection and vaccination is likely to lead to a better immune response and result in longer protection from reinfection.
The next scheduled dose of COVID-19 vaccine should be given as soon as possible after three months. You should still have all the recommended doses.
If you have had COVID-19, you do not need to defer other vaccinations – for example, your flu vaccine. But you should not get any vaccine if you are acutely unwell (e.g., if you have a fever).
Why should I get vaccinated?
The vaccines work by teaching your body to fight illness so that you don’t get sick or your symptoms aren’t as bad if you do get sick.
Having the vaccine means you will be less likely to catch COVID-19 and pass it on to others.
There is still a chance that you will catch COVID-19, but if you do, you are more likely to have no symptoms or mild symptoms.
If you’re still undecided, there are a range of resources available to help you make your choice:
- COVID-19 vaccination – Shared decision making guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy
- Joint statement between RANZCOG and ATAGI about COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women
- COVID-19 vaccination – Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and COVID-19 vaccines fact sheet
Safety and efficacy
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, helping protect against existing variants.
The vaccines have been tested extensively in clinical trials, including clinical trials on pregnant women. Data from clinical trials and real-world data show that vaccination does not increase the chances of pregnancy complications such as premature delivery, stillbirth, small for gestational age infants and birth defects.