One Mom’s Story: Breastfeeding and COVID-19 Vaccination

Kelly Cockayne, 33, encourages breastfeeding mothers to make an informed decision when it comes to scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination.

The 33-year-old learning consultant with Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation at Memorial Health System gave birth to Leo in early February just as vaccinations were becoming more readily available.

“Because I work in healthcare, I knew I was at an increased risk of getting COVID-19 so I really wanted to get the vaccine, but I also wanted to ensure the vaccine was the best choice for both of us,” Kelly said. “I did a lot of personal research by looking at credible sources, talking with my healthcare providers, discussing pros and cons with my peers in similar situations. The information I found made me feel comfortable in making the decision to get vaccinated.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm that clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use under an Emergency Use Authorization in the United States did not include people who are breastfeeding.

However, the COVID-19 vaccines authorized now are non-replicating vaccines, meaning they can create an immune response but do not reproduce inside host cells. Because non-replicating vaccines pose no risk for lactating people or their infants, COVID-19 vaccines are also thought to not be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. Therefore, lactating people may choose to be vaccinated.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has updated its position on COVID-19 vaccination to say that the group “strongly recommends” that all pregnant and breastfeeding women get vaccinated. The group also stated that “claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility are unfounded and have no scientific evidence supporting them.” This group had previously supported vaccination but is now speaking out even more strongly. COVID-19 poses serious risks to pregnant women if they contract it and are not vaccinated.

Cockayne experienced minor side effects after receiving the vaccine, mainly a low-grade fever and chills, but her son remained free of any side effects. Kelly’s milk supply was not affected at all.

“I would encourage anyone in a similar situation to feel empowered to make an informed decision by doing your own research,” she said. “My main pro in the pro/con decision-making process was the ability to protect myself and potentially my son from COVID-19.”

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