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Immunization Information For Pregnant Women

Vaccines help keep you and your growing family healthy. It is important to make sure that your immunizations are up to date before becoming pregnant. The flu and some other vaccine-preventable diseases pose risks to you and your unborn baby.

What you should do

Get vaccinated against the flu

Flu vaccine is safe and very important for pregnant women. A pregnant woman who gets the flu is at-risk for serious complications and pregnant women with the flu also have greater chances for serious problems for their unborn babies. These include premature labor and delivery.

Pregnant women can receive the flu shot at any time, during any trimester. In addition, because babies younger than 6 months of age are too young to receive flu vaccine, it is important that everyone who cares for a baby also gets a flu vaccine.

There are two types of flu vaccine. Pregnant women can only receive the flu shot as the nasal-spray vaccine is not approved for them.

Get vaccinated against pertussis

Pertussis (also known as whooping cough) is a disease that can be very dangerous for babies. It is spread through coughing or sneezing. The vaccine that protects adults against pertussis is called Tdap. Pregnant women should get a Tdap shot during every pregnancy, even if they have had Tdap shots in the past. Ideally, a pregnant woman should get a Tdap shot between 27 and 36 weeks. However, it is safe to get a Tdap shot at any point during pregnancy.

Encourage the people who will be around your baby to get vaccinated against pertussis

Pertussis spreads very easily from adults to babies. The best way to protect a baby from pertussis is to make sure that he or she is only surrounded by people who have been vaccinated against pertussis. Creating this circle of protection is sometimes called “cocooning”. People who will be around your baby may include your spouse, parents, grandparents, babysitters, and siblings.

The pertussis vaccine for children younger than 7 years of age is called DTap. The pertussis vaccine for everyone else is called Tdap.

Discuss other important vaccines with your healthcare provider

  • MMR rubella, or German measles, among other illnesses.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine.

Know your vaccination history

Your primary care provider should have a record of all the immunizations you have received. Sharing this information with your pre-conception and/or prenatal healthcare professional will help determine which vaccines you will need during pregnancy. If your doctor does not have a current record of your immunizations:

  • Ask your parents or other caregivers if they still have your school immunization records. Ask them which childhood illnesses you have already had.
  • Contact your pediatrician's practice to see if they have any information.

Even if you can't track down your records, your healthcare provider can still protect your health and that of your unborn baby by recommending vaccines appropriate for you.