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In this Article

    Vaccinations

    The Complete Vaccination Schedule for Pregnant Women

    Written on 22 April 2022

    Why is vaccination very important during pregnancy? What are the benefits? Are vaccines safe during pregnancy? Read on.

    Introduction

    Why is vaccination so necessary?

    Vaccinations will protect you and your baby from many serious illnesses. Most of the medicines treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them. It boosts your immune system by fighting certain infections. Vaccines that are heat-inactivated viruses are safer to be given to pregnant women. On the other hand, live virus vaccines are not advised for pregnant patients.

    Why is vaccination important for pregnancy?

    Vaccinated mothers pass on antibodies to their babies. During the first few months, when the baby is too young to get vaccinated, these antibodies provide immunity against certain diseases. It also helps provide vital protection for you throughout your pregnancy.

    It is essential to understand which vaccines you may need before, during, and after pregnancy so that you can protect yourself and your newborn from several diseases.

    Vaccines during Pregnancy

    Vaccines that are routinely recommended during pregnancy include:

    • Flu vaccines (influenza) shots:

    This vaccine is highly recommended by the US CDC. If you are expecting during the flu season, then you must take the flu vaccine. It can still be beneficial even if you get vaccinated after the flu season. Flu vaccines have been given to millions of pregnant women over the years, and evidence proved that this vaccine is safe. Especially, if you get yourself vaccinated during pregnancy, it will protect you and your baby for many months from flu-related complications. As this flu shot is made with inactivated virus, it is completely safe for both mother and the baby.

    • Tdap vaccine pregnancy:

    For newborns, the first few months are delicate, and infants are at a high risk of catching pertussis. It can be a severe and potentially life-threatening situation. In order to protect your babies when they are most vulnerable from such complications, pregnant women should get the tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap). One dose of the Tdap vaccine is recommended during each pregnancy, irrespective of whether you had taken Tdap last time. The ideal time given for the vaccine should be between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.

    • Hepatitis B:

    Pregnant women who are at a high risk and have tested negative for the virus can receive this vaccine. It is used to protect the mother and her baby against infection, both before and after delivery.

    • COVID-19:

    If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, it is safer to take COVID-19 vaccines. They do not pose any risk, and breastfeeding mothers can get the COVID-19 vaccines. This will help you prevent the spread of disease.

    Other vaccines

    If you frequently travel abroad or if you are prone to certain infections, your doctor may recommend a few other vaccines. You should discuss with your doctor 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to discuss the necessary precautions for:

    • Japanese encephalitis:

    Japanese encephalitis is caused by an infected mosquito bite. This leads to swelling of the brain. The fatality rate is high.

    • Typhoid:

    Typhoid fever is a deadly cause of concern all over the world. You contract this disease from contaminated food and water. It causes a high fever. In some cases, it can cause internal bleeding and lead to death.

    • Yellow fever:

    Caused by a virus and is spread by infected mosquitoes. It causes high fever, bleeding, organ failure, and even death.

    Pregnancy Vaccination Chart

    Routine vaccination

    Before pregnancy

    During pregnancy

    COVID-19

    Yes

    Yes

    Flu shot

    Yes

    Yes, if you did not get it before pregnancy

    Hepatitis A

    Contraindicated

    If indicated

    Hepatitis B

    If indicated

    If indicated

    Hib(Haemophilus influenzae)

    1 or 3 doses if indicated

    If indicated

    HPV

    Maybe, people aged 27-45

    No

    MMR

    Contraindicated

    No

    Meningococcal

    If indicated

    If indicated

    Pneumococcal

    If indicated

    If indicated

    Td/Tdap(tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis)

    Yes

    Each pregnancy between 27 and 36 weeks

    Varicella (chicken pox)

    Avoid conception for 4 weeks

    No

    Zoster

    No

    No

    Tetanus Injection during Pregnancy

    Tetanus can be an extremely deadly condition and could harm newborns. This condition could occur mostly due to the use of unsterile instruments during the delivery process and unhealed umbilical cord stumps. It affects the newborns as they have weaker immunity.

    It is essential for women to get a tetanus injection during pregnancy, so you could increase the maternal antibody response and transfer it to the infant. This vaccine will help the baby’s immune system become strong for a while post-delivery.

    TT Injection during Pregnancy - which Month?

    TT injection during pregnancy is vital. It is highly recommended if pregnant women have not been vaccinated or if their immunization status is not known. Two doses of TT are supposed to be given before the delivery. Both these doses are given one month apart. The second dose should be completed 4 weeks before the delivery.

    Vaccine Contraindicated in Pregnancy

    The following vaccines may cause premature delivery, birth defects or miscarriages.

    Hepatitis A:

    The safety and efficacy have not been determined, and it should be avoided during pregnancy. Women who are at a high risk of exposure to this virus should discuss with their doctor the complications and benefits of this vaccine.

    Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR):

    One should wait at least a month to conceive after receiving these live-virus vaccines.

    Varicella:

    This vaccine, which protects one from chicken pox, should be given at least one month before pregnancy.

    Pneumococcal:

    The safety of this vaccine is unknown, it should be avoided during pregnancy unless women are at a high risk or have a chronic illness.

    Polio Vaccine:

    Both the polio vaccines (OPV), live attenuated virus and the inactivated strain (IPV) vaccine, are not recommendable for pregnant women.

    Are Vaccines Safe for Pregnancy?

    Some vaccines are safe and highly recommended for women before, during, and after pregnancy to keep you and your baby protected. The antibodies that mothers develop in response to these vaccines not only protect them, but also help prevent their babies suffering from many serious diseases in their early life.

    Summary

    Vaccination during pregnancy is a beneficial measure to protect the mother, the fetus, and the infant. Influenza and Tdap vaccines are highly recommended for all pregnant women while other vaccines are recommended post-delivery - like MMR and varicella - or depending upon risk factors, such as hepatitis A and B, pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines. Inactivated vaccines are safer to use during pregnancy. However, all live vaccines should be avoided during pregnancy.

    So, it is essential that future studies focus on vaccines during pregnancy and their immunogenicity, and look into the safety of the mother and her baby.

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