New and expecting mums respond slower to the Covid vaccine’s first dose

New and expecting mothers are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated against Covid. New research has shown just how important that second dose is.

There are some among us that believe one dose of any of the two-dose Covid vaccines available to Australians will be enough, but this kind of thinking could be particularly dangerous for pregnant or breastfeeding mums.

A new study, published in the journal Science Translation Medicine, suggests new and soon-to-be mothers respond slower than other women to the first dose and mount a less potent defense against the virus.

After the second dose, though, their immune response looks just about the same.

Like what you see? Sign up for our newsletter for more stories like this.

Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to illness and infection, as the body is modified to tolerate a foetus—essentially a foreign entity. Because of this, they are more likely to get severely ill with Covid or die from it than other women their age.

Analysing the antibodies produced by 84 pregnant women at differing stages of pregnancy, 31 breastfeeding, and 16 non-pregnant women of the same age, participants were inoculated using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

After a single dose, those breastfeeding or pregnant had fewer antibodies compared to the non-pregnant participants, and the present antibodies were less capable of kicking the immune system into gear to fight the virus. After the second dose, however, all participants had around the same number of antibodies.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women were left out of initial vaccine clinical trials for the purpose of safety, as well as eliminating variables in the efficacy results. Now that the safety of these Covid vaccines is well-established, it’s important to examine them within the broader population.

“Given that pregnant women are vulnerable to severe Covid-19, it is important to understand the immunological response to vaccination in pregnant and lactating women,” researchers wrote.

Understanding how pregnancy and lactation affect responses to vaccination and antibody transfer to infants offers critical opportunities to guide recommendations for this population.”

Know that you are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after your second dose, and the first dose only offers minimal protection against infection and severe illness from Covid.

Any products featured in this article are selected by our editors, who don’t play favourites. If you buy something, we may get a cut of the sale. Learn more.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here