At Pediatric Associates of Hampton & Portsmouth, we strongly believe in the importance of immunizations and fully support the childhood immunization schedule established by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). We also agree with the AAP’s assertion that the COVID-19 vaccine is our best hope for ending the current pandemic.
Many caregivers are inquiring as to when their children may be offered the vaccine.
All New Hampshire residents 16+ years old will be able to register for the COVID-19 vaccine by April 2, 2021.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is available to children age 16 years and older, while the Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines can be given to adults age 18 years and older. Clinical trials are ongoing in children as young as 6 months. The AAP answers some of the most common questions regarding COVID-19 vaccines here.
If you or your child is eligible for one of the COVID-19 vaccines, you should sign up to receive the first available vaccine. There is no preference for any specific vaccine. All three authorized COVID-19 vaccines are life-saving: research trials have shown all three are highly effective against severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and death. Delaying immunization leaves an individual vulnerable to infection for a longer period of time, placing them at greater risk of serious illness and death.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that the COVID-19 vaccine be administered alone, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration of any other vaccine. People should be offered vaccination regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Vaccination of people with known current SARS-CoV-2 infection should be deferred until the person has recovered from the acute illness (if the person had symptoms) and they have met criteria to discontinue isolation.
We have also received many questions from our breastfeeding mothers regarding whether or not they should get the vaccine, or if they will need to stop breastfeeding should they choose to get the vaccine.
The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) describes how mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. A lactating person who is part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., healthcare personnel) may choose to be vaccinated. While there is no long-term data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating people or the effects of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines on the breastfed infant or milk production/excretion, studies are currently ongoing to determine outcomes.
Per recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG),
“COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP-recommended priority groups. COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to lactating individuals similar to non-lactating individuals when they meet criteria for receipt of the vaccine based on prioritization groups outlined by the ACIP.”
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) likewise issued the following statement:
“Many lactating individuals fall into categories prioritized for vaccination, such as front-line health care workers. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine does not recommend cessation of breastfeeding for individuals who are vaccinated against COVID-19. Individuals who are lactating should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their health care provider, within the context of their risk of contracting COVID-19 and of developing severe disease. Health care providers should use shared decision making in discussing the benefits of the vaccine for preventing COVID-19 and its complications, the risks to mother and child of cessation of breastfeeding, and the biological plausibility of vaccine risks and benefits to the breastfed child.
“There are no clinical data regarding the safety of this vaccine in nursing mothers. However, there is little biological plausibility that the vaccine will cause harm, and antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in milk may protect the breastfeeding child.”
The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine also recommends that pregnant and lactating people have access to COVID-19 vaccines. You should feel empowered to discuss the benefits and risks of your options with your healthcare provider.
Based on the science behind these vaccines and the above professional consensus, we support any mother who desires to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and continue breastfeeding. If a mother is more comfortable switching to formula feeding following receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine, we support her in this choice as well.
Additional Helpful Links:
Vaxopedia (written by a board-certified pediatrician) – COVID-19 Vaccines for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Moms