There is "no evidence" that taking a Covid-19 vaccination affects a woman's future ability to conceive or continue a pregnancy, Dr Cliona Murphy, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has said.

Speaking at this evening's National Public Health Emergency Team briefing, Dr Murphy - who is also Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital and Tallaght University Hospital - said it is recommended that everyone of reproductive age should take the Covid-19 vaccine as it becomes available. 

"We are aware of misinformation about risks associated with taking Covid-19 vaccines and an impact on fertility," she said. 

"There is no evidence that taking any of the Covid-19 vaccines affects a woman's future ability to conceive, or to continue a pregnancy."

Dr Murphy said there is no reason to avoid vaccination among those with a history of miscarriages. 

She said there is evidence of a negative effect on fertility in men if they have Covid-19, but it is not clear if this is a trend or long-term consequence. 

In the case of someone who discovers they are pregnant shortly after being inoculated, Dr Murphy said the second dose can be deferred until after 14 weeks.

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She added that in planning for IVF, women could make the choice to wait until they have received both doses before proceeding with scheduled treatment as it would be beneficial to be fully vaccinated, and it is safe to commence IVF a few days after the second dose.

She said it was the view of pathologists in Ireland that Covid-19 was "a significant factor" in four preliminary reports of stillbirths confirmed at the NPHET briefing last Thursday.

She said the cases - potentially associated with a condition known as Covid Placentitis - "aren't necessarily" impacted by new strains of the virus.

There have been similar reports in other countries, Dr Murphy said, but they "haven't reached the literature as yet, but not high numbers."

She said perinatal pathologists are liaising with international colleagues, but "we need to keep an open mind." 

She said it is not clear why we have only seen these incidents in Ireland in the past few months, but added that there have been various examples of Covid-19 affecting people in different ways. 

Over 50,000 women delivered babies in the last year, Dr Murphy said, approximately 500 of whom contracted Covid-19, most of whom experienced mild to moderate symptoms.