27 July 2022 | Story Jóhann Thormählen | Photo Pixabay
The National Department of Health in South Africa has published a document stating that COVID-19 vaccination is safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

Being pregnant is actually a reason why women should get vaccinated against COVID-19.

They are at an increased risk, and vaccination provides them and their babies protection during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

According to Dr Gerhard Jansen, medical practitioner of Kovsie Health at the University of the Free State, research shows that it is not only safe, but pregnancy is an indication for vaccination.

Although there are sceptics about vaccination, pregnancy and breast-feeding studies have shown the contrary.
“Vaccination decreases transmission of the virus, and the incidence of severe illness (hospitalisation) and mortality (death) is significantly reduced by vaccination,” says Dr Jansen.

Dr Jansen says the key messages are that “vaccination has been proven to be safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding – pregnancy is actually an indication for vaccination – and that vaccination protects yourself and your baby”.


Sister Theresa de Vries, professional nurse at Kovsie Health, says there are many misperceptions.

“Pregnant moms are scared that the vaccine will have an effect (effects such as congenital defects, altered DNA, stillbirth, miscarriages, etc.) on their unborn child.”

She says pregnancy per se reduces the mother’s immunity and therefore increases the risk of severe disease, as well as increases the mortality rate. Hence the fact that pregnancy is actually an indication for vaccination.

Breast-feeding moms can be assured that it is safe to vaccinate while breast-feeding, and that the vaccine will not affect the mother’s milk production, nor will vaccination have an effect on the baby. – Dr Gerhard Jansen
Furthermore, pregnant woman with comorbidities (obesity, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, etc.) have a higher risk of severe disease and mortality.

According to Dr Jansen, women are also afraid of the effect of the virus on them and on their symptom profile when vaccinated, but surveys have shown that there is no need for concern.


The DOH document states that there are many benefits to vaccination. It is effective in preventing severe COVID-19 disease and mortality, may reduce the risk of preterm birth and stillbirth, and protective antibodies may be transferred to the foetus or neonate.  “Being vaccinated and protected against severe illness (and even death) reassures the mother, and this will have a positive effect on the bond between the mother and the unborn child,” says Dr Jansen.


The DOH says “all pregnant and breast-feeding women are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination regardless of the stage of their pregnancy”, and breast-feeding women can receive the vaccination without having to stop breast-feeding.  It also states that all women planning pregnancy should get vaccinated before falling pregnant, and do not need to delay conception.

Dr Jansen says breast milk is the best source of nutrition and hydration for a baby. 

“Breast-feeding moms can be assured that it is safe to vaccinate while breastfeeding, and that the vaccine will not affect the mother’s milk production, nor will vaccination have an effect on the baby.”



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