Vaccines are an important part of planning and having a healthy pregnancy. If you are planning a pregnancy, check with your doctor to make sure you are up-to-date on your vaccines. If you are currently pregnant, doctors and midwives recommend you receive 2 vaccines during your pregnancy:
- Tdap to help protect against whooping cough, and
- The flu shot to help protect against influenza.
Thinking about having a baby?
If you are in the pregnancy planning stages, you may need to receive some vaccines. Your doctor may need to give you vaccines several weeks before you become pregnant because it could take a while for your body to build up disease protection (immunity) after getting the vaccine. Some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as rubella, can lead to serious complications, including birth defects. You can’t get the vaccine to prevent rubella if you are currently pregnant. Therefore, planning ahead is very important.
Pregnant? Vaccines will help protect you and your baby
During your pregnancy, you should receive vaccines against both the flu (if you haven’t already received the vaccine during the current flu season) and whooping cough (pertussis). These vaccines not only protect you by preventing illnesses and complications, but they also pass on some protection to your unborn child.
If you are pregnant, you are at increased risk for complications due to the flu. When you get the flu shot, you’ll help protect yourself from getting sick from the flu; even if you do catch it, your symptoms may be less severe if you’ve been vaccinated. Protection against the flu is important during your pregnancy because, if you get the flu during this time, it increases your chances for premature labor and delivery, as well as other serious problems that could lead to hospitalization and even death. Another benefit of getting the flu shot during your pregnancy is that you’ll pass antibodies to your baby so he or she will be born with some flu protection that can last up to 6 months.
Whooping cough is serious for your newborn. In fact, if your newborn catches whooping cough, he or she can develop serious complications or even die from the disease. About half of babies who get whooping cough end up in the hospital. When you get the whooping cough vaccine during your third trimester, it will allow for some whooping cough antibodies to pass on to your baby so he or she is born with protection. Plus, you’ll be protected so that you are less likely to pass whooping cough on to your baby.
Maternal vaccination timing
You’ll need both vaccines during each of your pregnancies, but you may need them a different times during your pregnancy.
You can get the flu shot at any time during your pregnancy. Most of the time flu activity is highest between December and February, but seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October and last as late as May. You’ll need the inactivated flu vaccine, which is the shot, not the nasal spray flu vaccine.
You should get the whooping cough vaccine (also called Tdap) between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy in order for the most whooping cough protection to be passed on to your unborn child.
Safe and effective disease protection
You can rest assured that these vaccines are very safe for you and your baby. Millions of pregnant women have safely received flu shots for many years, and CDC continues to gather data showing that the flu shot is safe and effective during pregnancy. The whooping cough vaccine is also very safe for you and your unborn baby. Getting the vaccine during your pregnancy will not put you at increased risk for pregnancy complications.
If you have questions about the vaccines you need, talk to your doctor or midwife.