Vaccines do double duty when you’re pregnant
Expecting a baby is an exciting, busy time. When it comes to checking things off your to-do list ahead of your little one’s arrival, don’t forget to ask your provider about the important vaccines you should get while pregnant.
“Most often, we get vaccinated to protect ourselves from severe illness and to help slow the spread of disease,” says Kirby Curby-Warner, certified nurse midwife at Aurora Obstetrics & Gynecology in Burlington, Wis. “But when you’re pregnant, vaccines also offer protection for your growing baby.”
That’s because vaccines encourage your immune systems to create antibodies that recognize specific bacteria or viruses – and these antibodies are shared with a fetus through the placenta.
Most pregnant people should get the following vaccines:
- Tdap: This vaccine protects against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. It’s especially important to get the Tdap vaccine while pregnant, even if you’ve had it or the Td vaccine before. Whooping cough is one of the most severe and life-threatening diseases for babies. Encourage anyone who will have close contact with your baby, such as immediate family or caregivers, to update their Tdap vaccines as well.
- Flu: It’s also advised that you get your flu shot when you’re pregnant. The flu can increase your risk of preterm labor and delivery.
You should also consider getting your COVID shot depending on when you last received it. You’re more likely to experience severe symptoms of COVID while expecting, which could increase your risk of pregnancy complications.
Some vaccines, however, could be harmful to your baby, including vaccines containing live or weakened viruses or bacteria.
These vaccines are generally not advised for pregnant people:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
- Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
- Travel vaccinations, such as yellow fever, typhoid fever or Japanese encephalitis vaccines
If you’re hesitant about getting vaccinated while expecting, talk to your provider about what you’re feeling. They can answer your questions and help alleviate your concerns by offering evidence-based information about the safety of vaccines.
“It’s natural to feel protective of your child, and fortunately, protection is what vaccines are all about,” says Curby-Warner. “As a provider, my top priority is always the health and well-being of both mom and baby.”
About the Author
Alyx Andrus, health enews contributor, is a senior content writer at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. With a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and experience in journalism and retail marketing, she’s been writing in different capacities for more than 15 years. Alyx lives in southeastern Wisconsin with her husband and their dogs, Amelia and Gus.