Your OB/GYN provider will not recommend a vaccine during pregnancy that is not safe for both you and your baby. Many vaccines are safe, but some vaccines may be harmful to unborn children and can cause miscarriage, premature birth or birth defects.
Before becoming pregnant, talk to your OB/GYN provider about vaccines you should get before you try to conceive. Rubella, for example, is a very dangerous condition for pregnant women, but the rubella vaccine poses theoretical risks during pregnancy.
Recommended Vaccines for Expectant Mothers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend two vaccines for pregnant women:
- Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis (Tdap): This vaccine is designed to protect both mom and baby from three potentially life-threatening conditions. It protects newborns from whooping cough (pertussis), no matter when in your pregnancy you receive the Tdap vaccine. It also protects mom and baby from tetanus, a condition that affects the brain and nervous system and causes painful muscle spasms and lockjaw. Finally, it protects against diphtheria, a dangerous infection that makes it difficult to breathe and causes heart and nerve damage.
- Flu (influenza) Shot: The flu shot is important for women who are pregnant during flu season, which is typically from November through March. When administered to pregnant women, the virus is made inactive so as not to harm the baby. Pregnant women should avoid the nasal spray alternative to flu shots, which is made from a live virus.
Other Safe Vaccines
You may need other vaccines depending on your individual health factors and risks. If you plan to travel internationally, your doctor may recommend certain vaccinations. Pregnant women who are at risk of hepatitis B, should receive a hepatitis B vaccine. Consult your doctor to know which vaccines are safe for you.
Vaccines Pregnant Women Should Avoid
Some vaccines may not be safe for pregnant women. These include:
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR): This vaccine contains live strands of each of these viruses and should be avoided during pregnancy. If you receive the shot prior to getting pregnant, you should wait at least one month to try to conceive.
- Pneumococcal: The safety of this vaccine is unknown and should be avoided during pregnancy. However, if you have a high risk for chronic illness, your doctor may recommend it.
- Varicella: Otherwise known as the “chicken pox” vaccine, varicella contains a live virus and should not be injected during pregnancy.
- HPV: This vaccine prevents the human papillomavirus and should not be administered during pregnancy.
- Hepatitis A: The safety of this vaccine is unknown and should be avoided during pregnancy. If you are at a high risk for Hepatitis A, or if you plan to travel out of country while pregnant, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated.
- Polio: There are two forms of the polio vaccine: an oral version, which contains a live virus, and an injection version, which contains a killed virus. Neither is recommended for pregnant women.
Be sure to call your doctor to discuss other ways in which you can keep both you and your baby safe and healthy.
Obstetricians/gynecologists at Revere Health OB/GYN provide a full range of healthcare services to women throughout all stages of their lives including; puberty, child-bearing years, menopause.
“Is It Safe to Get Vaccinations During Pregnancy?” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/baby/pregnancy-is-it-safe-to-get-vaccinations#2
“Pregnancy Week By Week.” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/vaccines-during-pregnancy/faq-20057799
“Pregnancy and Vaccination.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pregnancy/pregnant-women/index.html