Misinformation About COVID-19 Vaccines and Pregnancy is Widespread, Including Among Women Who are Pregnant or Planning to Get Pregnant
Among This Group, 1 in 4 Wrongly Believe Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Get Vaccinated, and Many More Aren’t Sure About This and Other Myths
Misinformation and confusion about the COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy remains widespread, with most people – including women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant – either believing or being uncertain about at least one of three false claims they’ve heard, a new KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor shows.
Among women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant – the group for whom accurate information about the vaccines’ safety before, during and after pregnancy is most important – 72% either believe or are unsure about at least one of the myths. Specifically:
- Nearly a quarter (24%) incorrectly believe pregnant women should not get a COVID-19 vaccine; another 37% have heard the misinformation and are not sure if it is true.
- 17% wrongly believe it is unsafe for women who are breastfeeding to get a vaccine; another 36% have heard the misinformation and are not sure if it is true.
- 16% wrongly believe that the COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to cause infertility; another 44% have heard the misinformation and are not sure if it is true.
“More than two years into the pandemic, there’s a surprising amount of confusion about the vaccine’s safety for pregnant women,” said Mollyann Brodie, a KFF Executive Vice President and Executive Director of the Public Opinion and Survey Research Program. “The fact that so many younger women incorrectly believe the vaccines can cause infertility or that they’re not safe for pregnant women highlights the real challenges facing public health officials.”
The widespread reach of this misinformation may contribute to the public’s lower level of confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant woman. For instance, about half (53%) of adults say they are confident in the vaccines’ safety for pregnant women and those trying to conceive, well below the 72% share who express confidence in its use for adults generally.
About 4 in 10 (42%) women who are or planning to become pregnant express confidence in the vaccines’ safety for pregnant women and those trying to conceive.
As part of KFF’s THE CONVERSATION / LA CONVERSACIÓN campaign, OB-GYNs, a nurse and midwife affirm the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy and debunk myths about the impact on fertility in 40+ FAQ videos. Tailored media messages and community tools address information needs about the vaccines.
Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at KFF, the Vaccine Monitor survey was conducted from May 10-19, 2022, among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,537 adults, including 306 Hispanic adults and 248 non-Hispanic Black adults. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish online (1,246) and by phone (39). The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.
The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is an ongoing research project tracking the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations. Using a combination of surveys and qualitative research, this project tracks the dynamic nature of public opinion as vaccine development and distribution unfold, including vaccine confidence and acceptance, information needs, trusted messengers and messages, as well as the public’s experiences with vaccination.