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COVID-19 vaccine and you

Dear NICU parent or guardian,

In light of your eligibility to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you may have questions about the vaccine and how it will impact you, your pumping regime, and so on. Here are answers to questions we’ve been hearing from families.

What is in the vaccines?

The COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain any live virus which means they can’t give you COVID-19. The vaccines are a new type of vaccine containing mRNA. They teach our bodies to make a protein that boosts our immunity and protects us against infection from COVID-19.

How effective are the vaccines at preventing illness?

The COVID-19 vaccines provided at Sunnybrook are 94 to 95 per cent effective. This means that for every 100 people who get the vaccine, 94 to 95 per cent will not get a COVID-19 infection.

Will the vaccine get into my breast milk?

There is new data showing antibodies for COVID-19 in breast milk after vaccination. So you’re not only protecting yourself against COVID-19 with the vaccine, you’re also passing along some immunity to your baby.

Why didn’t they include pregnant or breastfeeding women in the clinical trials for the vaccines?

It’s common practice for clinical trials to exclude those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, we do know that some vaccine study participants became pregnant and to date there have been no adverse effects reported during pregnancy or related to the health of babies.

I’ve heard you can get some side effects, especially after the second dose. If I experience any side effects can I still be with my baby in the unit?

Some people may experience mild side effects after getting immunized, like a mild fever, headache, chills, muscle or joint pain. These side effects are generally not serious and go away on their own after a day or two. To be very safe, and ensure the side effects are due to the vaccine and not another illness, we will ask that you stay home until you are symptom-free. Remember you can call the unit at any time to speak with your baby’s nurse.

If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to send me an email or call, or speak with any of the doctors on staff.

Dr. Eugene Ng, Medical Director, NICU
416-480-6100 ext. 87781
eugene.ng@sunnybrook.ca