Background: Data regarding adverse events observed in the lactating mother-infant dyad and their immune response to COVID-19 mRNA vaccination during lactation are needed to inform vaccination guidelines.
Methods: From a prospective cohort of 50 lactating individuals who received mRNA-based vaccines for COVID-19 (mRNA-1273 and BNT162b2), blood and milk samples were collected prior to first vaccination dose, immediately prior to 2nd dose, and 4-10 weeks after 2nd dose. Symptoms in mother and infant were assessed by detailed questionnaires. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels in blood and milk were measured by Pylon 3D automated immunoassay and ELISA. In addition, vaccine-related PEGylated proteins in milk were measured by ELISA. Blood samples were collected from a subset of infants whose mothers received the vaccine during lactation (4-15 weeks after mothers' 2nd dose).
Results: No severe maternal or infant adverse events were reported in this cohort. Two mothers and two infants were diagnosed with COVID-19 during the study period. PEGylated proteins, were not found at significant levels in milk after vaccination. After vaccination, levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG and IgM significantly increased in maternal plasma and there was significant transfer of anti-SARS-CoV-2-Receptor Binding Domain (anti-RBD) IgA and IgG antibodies to milk. Milk IgA levels after the 2nd dose were negatively associated with infant age. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies were not detected in the plasma of infants whose mothers were vaccinated during lactation.
Conclusions: COVID-19 mRNA vaccines generate robust immune responses in plasma and milk of lactating individuals without severe adverse events reported.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; antibodies; breastfeeding; human milk; immunity; lactation; mRNA vaccine; passive immunity; side effects; vaccine.