Are Vaccinations Safe During Pregnancy?
- Posted on: Mar 24 2020
Submitted by Stefanie Davis, WHNP
Vaccinations in Pregnancy
Routine vaccinations are an important way to keep both individuals and the general population safe and healthy. Seasonal and routine vaccination campaigns are the front line in preventing spread of disease. Vaccines help our body’s immune system build up a defense so that, when exposed to a certain illness like the flu, our body is already trained to resist the disease. Certain vaccines are safe during pregnancy and some are not. You may be surprised to hear our providers recommend certain vaccines during your pregnancy, but please be assured, we would not recommend a vaccine if we weren’t completely sure it is safe for you and your baby.
Which Vaccines are Safe?
There are two vaccines that might be recommended during your pregnancy, especially depending on the season. We keep up with guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding vaccines in pregnancy.
Influenza is a common viral infection that can be dangerous, especially in high-risk groups. Pregnant women are considered high risk as the immune system becomes weakened during pregnancy.
Influenza causes symptoms in the lungs, nose, and throat, which can become severe causing high fever or pneumonia. Having “the flu” during pregnancy can lead to hospitalization, even ICU stays.
Each year infectious disease specialists create a new vaccine based on the previous year’s activity so it is important to receive the vaccine yearly to prevent severe symptoms. It is completely safe to receive this vaccine during pregnancy, as long as it is given in the inactive form. The nasal spray influenza vaccine is made from live virus, so this particular version should be avoided. Rest assured, Camelback Women’s Health will provide you with the safe version!
You can receive the “flu” vaccine anytime during your pregnancy, especially if you are pregnant during the high season, which is typically October through March. The immunity from the vaccine will also help protect the baby during the first few months of life. This is very important because babies can’t receive a flu vaccine until they are 6 months old.
Please be assured, the “flu” vaccine will not cause you to have the actual flu. In reality, it will help reduce the severity of the symptoms should you be exposed during the pregnancy.
Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis are serious diseases. The TDap vaccine can protect us from these diseases, and especially help protect your newborn from pertussis. Pertussis, also known as “whooping cough” is caused by a bacteria that can cause severe coughing spells and difficulty breathing. Whooping cough is a known cause of death to newborns. Like the flu shot, TDap will help give the baby immunity as well. Based on CDC guidelines, we recommend the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy between 27 and 35 weeks. Additional recommendations include TDap be given every time a woman is pregnant. It is also very important that family members or people who will interact with your baby for the first 2 months be current with their TDap vaccine because your baby can’t receive their own vaccine until they are 2 months old.
What if I’m not pregnant?
We suggest you receive all CDC recommended vaccines and/or boosters prior to pregnancy. This includes MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and varicella (chicken pox). If you are uncertain about your pre-existing immunity to these diseases, we are able to check for immunity prior to recommending the vaccine. Keep in mind, we may advise a wait time between vaccination and conception.
You might want to consider the HPV vaccine series, which is now available up to age 45. If you have questions about vaccines you can receive prior to pregnancy we would be happy to see you for a preconception counseling visit.
Posted in: Obstetrics