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Vaccinations in pregnancy: Safeguard for mom and baby

June 04, 2024

Why is vaccination during pregnancy matters?

Even if you have had vaccines before, being pregnant means your body might need some extra protection. Some vaccines need a boost during pregnancy to make sure the baby gets the protection they need from dangerous diseases. Since newborns cannot get all their shots right away, they need to rely on their mothers’ immunity to keep them safe during their early months of life.
When you are pregnant, your body goes through changes, which can make you more likely to catch certain illnesses. But by getting vaccinated during pregnancy, you can lower the chances of getting sick and passing anything on to your baby. It is like putting up a shield of protection around both of you, so you can focus on enjoying your pregnancy and getting ready to meet your little one.
 

Which vaccines are recommended for pregnant women?

Ideally, women should ensure they are fully vaccinated before conceiving. However, if any vaccinations are pending or incomplete, careful planning is necessary. For pregnant women, there are two strongly advised vaccines to receive: influenza vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine.
 

Influenza vaccine

During pregnancy, a woman undergoes physiological changes as her body supports the growing baby. These changes make pregnant women more vulnerable to illnesses like flu, which can lead to more serious complications if they contact influenza compared to those who are not pregnant.
Getting the influenza vaccine during pregnancy is safe and helpful for both mother and baby. The vaccine grants the mother protection against flu and passes immunity to the baby in the womb, against influenza infection during the vulnerable newborn period. It is important to note that the influenza vaccine administered during pregnancy must be of the inactivated type.


Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine

The diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, known as Tdap, is typically recommended for pregnant women in every pregnancy at gestation age between 27 and 36 weeks. This vaccine is crucial because pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, can be very harmful to both pregnant women and the community at large. Babies, especially infants under 6 months of age, are at most risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting vaccinated while you are pregnant is highly effective in protecting your baby from developing whooping cough in the first few weeks of their life. The immunity you get from the vaccine will pass to your baby through the placenta and provide passive protection for them until they are old enough to be routinely vaccinated against whooping cough.


Additional vaccine considerations during pregnancy

  1. Rather from mother and baby, those who will be in close contact with the newborn should also be vaccinated. This includes caregivers and family members like grandparents. Ensuring they are up-to-date on their Tdap vaccine before caring for infants under 12 months of age helps create a protective circle around the baby.
  2. Expecting couples should consider reviewing their vaccination history and receive any necessary vaccines before conception. This proactive approach simplifies treatment planning and prenatal care, alleviating concerns about vaccinations during pregnancy and ensuring full protection when pregnancy occurs.
  3. Live attenuated vaccines, such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, or chickenpox (varicella) vaccine, are contraindicated during pregnancy. Hence, it is advisable to schedule them postpartum. If you are planning to become pregnant and require these vaccines, it is crucial to wait at least 4 weeks before getting pregnant.
  4. Considering certain risk or history of illness, your doctor might give you other vaccines which are not routinely administered to the pregnant women, e.g., hepatitis A vaccine, hepatitis B vaccine, and rabies vaccine. As for traveling, vaccination against diseases in certain area might be introduced, e.g., typhoid vaccine.


During pregnancy or while planning for one, it is crucial to stay vigilant about potential illness outbreaks or the emergence of new diseases. Keeping track of health information from reliable sources or seeking guidance from healthcare professionals is essential. This ensures receiving accurate advice and enables proper planning for the treatment and prevention of various diseases.
 

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