William Schaffner, MD, on COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines and Pregnancy

In this soundbite, William Schaffner, MD, speaks about recommendations for administering the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines to pregnant women, including if there are any adverse effects of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines reported during pregnancy. This topic was presented at the 2021 virtual Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Additional Resource:

  • Moro P, Olson C, Marquez P. Safety of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy in the vaccine adverse event reporting system, December 14, 2020–February 6, 2021. Presented at: 2021 Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research; April 26-27, 2021; Virtual.

William Schaffner, MD, is the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and is a professor of preventive medicine in the Department of Health Policy and a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.



Jessica Bard: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another installment of "Podcast 360," your go‑to resource for medical news and clinical updates. I'm your moderator, Jessica Bard, with Consultant360 Specialty Network.

The Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research has brought together infectious disease researchers and public health experts from around the world for more than 20 years. It's sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

The NFID medical director, Dr William Schaffner, is here to speak with us about some of the most, timely topics presented at the 2021 Virtual Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research. Thank you for joining us today, Dr Schaffner.

Pregnant women with COVID‑19 are at an increased risk of severe illness, including illness that results in Intensive Care Unit admission, mechanical ventilation, and death compared to non‑pregnant women of reproductive age.

Can you please talk to us about any adverse effects of the COVID‑19 mRNA vaccines reported during pregnancy?

Dr William Schaffner: The provision of COVID vaccines to women who are interested in becoming pregnant, who are pregnant, or who are lactating, not much information was available during the clinical trials because pregnant women were not eligible during the trials.

Subsequently, we have a national surveillance system that's out there. The CDC investigators use this surveillance system called VAERS, V‑A‑E‑R‑S, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

They garnered 123 reports of some sort of, perhaps, adverse event that occurred in pregnant women. They had to determine, through statistical methods, whether these events were causal or coincidental.

The good news is that there was no increase in any pregnancy‑specific adverse event associated with receiving COVID vaccine. This is very reassuring as we go forward and continue to recommend the use of COVID vaccine during pregnancy.

This is very important because women who get COVID virus infection during pregnancy are more apt to have severe outcomes themselves.

If they get infected in their last trimester, their babies are more likely to be born prematurely. Protecting those pregnant women while they're pregnant is very important.

Jessica: Thank you very much for your time today, Dr Schaffner. I enjoyed speaking with you.

Dr Schaffner: [laughs] My great pleasure. Just remember my favorite saying, "When in doubt, vaccinate."