Women's Healthcare Topics

Can I get Vaccinated While Pregnant and Are They Safe?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Every Pregnant Women Should have DTap Vaccine

Typically, vaccines that contain inactivated (killed) viruses can be given during pregnancy. While vaccines that contain live viruses are not recommended for pregnant women.

There is no evidence that inactivated vaccines cause harm to a pregnant women or baby. However, live vaccines may be harmful to a developing fetus. The live virus vaccines should be avoided during pregnancy.

Immunizations Recommended Routinely during Pregnancy

There are only a few vaccinations recommended during pregnancy for routine use.

  • Influenza (flu) - Everyone should get the flu vaccine each year, especially pregnant women. That’s because the flu during pregnancy is more severe than the flu when not pregnant. The flu vaccine can keep a pregnant woman from getting severely sick. It can also prevent your newborn baby from getting the flu during the first few months of life.

  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis - Every pregnant women should have the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine between the 27th and 36th week of pregnancy, even if you had the vaccination before.

Immunization Recommendations for High Risk Groups

Women that are at high risk of acquiring an infection should be immunized, if the infection could result in harm to mom or baby.

  • Hepatitis B - Hepatitis B vaccine is a recombinant vaccine with no known harm to the fetus or newborn. It should be given if a pregnant women is completing her immunization series that was begun before pregnancy, or at high risk of acquiring hepatitis B.

  • Hepatitis A - Hepatitis A is a common cause of acute hepatitis associated with preterm delivery. Hepatitis A virus vaccine can be used in pregnancy for women at increased risk of acquiring the disease. Passive immunization with immune globulin can be given post exposure to Hepatitis A for prevention.

  • Pneumococcus - Pregnant women at increased risk of invasive pneumococcal disease can be given Pneumococcal vaccine.

Postpartum Immunization

Learn About Immunization in Pregnancy.

Two vaccines, MMR and Varicella, should be given before going home from the hospital to protect mother and newborn:

  • MNR - The measles, mumps, rubella vaccine should be administered to women not immune to rubella prior to leaving the hospital after delivery. The vaccine should only be administered with evidence of non immune status.

  • Varicella -Also the Varicella vaccine should be given to all women prior to leaving the hospital. An evidence of a prior immunity to Varicella is not necessary. A second dose is given at four to eight weeks to complete Varicella immunity.

Facts to Know about Immunization

  • Autism association with immunizations — Despite the view that childhood vaccines may cause autism, no evidence has been show to support an association between vaccines and autism.

  • Prior to conception complete all immunizations - Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should complete all immunizations at least one month prior to conception.

  • Before administering any vaccine - Make sure you are not pregnant and do not expect to become pregnant in the next four weeks.

  • Influenza Season - During the influenza season all pregnant women should receive influenza vaccination regardless of gestational age.

  • Pregnancy within one month after immunization - Birth defects have not been reported if pregnancy occurs within one month after immunization with the live measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine.

  • Postpartum MMR and varicella vaccines - The MMR and Varicella vaccines can be given safely to postpartum women who are breastfeeding. The virus is not transmitted to breast milk.

  • LAIV — The intranasal vaccine (LAIV, FluMist) should not be given in pregnancy. The intranasal attenuated influenza vaccine is a live, attenuated viruses.


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