Vaccines During Pregnancy
September 29, 2020Vaccines are an important part of maintaining a healthy pregnancy, as they protect expecting mothers and their babies from deadly diseases. As an expecting mom, your healthcare provider may recommend that you get vaccines at specific times during your pregnancy. Below are some of the most common pregnancy vaccines, what they protect against, and their potential side effects. If you have any questions or concerns regarding these vaccines or any other vaccines, please don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.
Whooping Cough and the Flu
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages expecting mothers to get whooping cough (aka Tdap) and flu vaccines during pregnancy.1 Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, can be a serious threat to anyone, but it can be especially dangerous for newborns.
According to data from the CDC, roughly seven out of 10 deaths from whooping cough are among babies younger than two months old.1 Because these babies are too young to be vaccinated themselves, the best form of protection for a newborn against whooping cough is for the mother to receive the vaccination during her pregnancy. When an expecting mom receives the vaccine, her body creates antibodies, some of which get passed to her baby before birth.1 A similar process happens when a mother gets a flu vaccine during her pregnancy.
The CDC recommends pregnant women get a flu vaccine by the end of October to protect against the disease before flu activity begins to increase significantly.1 Although flu season varies throughout the world, in the United States, flu season generally spans fall and winter, with cases of the flu spiking from December to February.2
Hepatitis A & B
Some women may also benefit from receiving additional vaccines, especially if they travel for a living, work in a lab, or are frequently exposed to or at risk of exposure to disease. Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines protect mother and baby against the associated diseases and are generally thought to be safe. Although there is no research that has determined these vaccines to be 100 percent safe for expecting mothers and their babies, there is little to no evidence that the vaccine is unsafe. The theoretical risk is thought to be low, with the benefit far outweighing any potential risk.2
Vaccines for Travel
If you are planning an international trip, talk to your doctor about any recommended vaccines. Depending on where you are going, your doctor may recommend specific vaccines to protect you and your baby against diseases that you would ordinarily not be exposed to. Be sure to consult your doctor well in advance – at least four to six weeks before your scheduled trip.1
Potential Side Effects
Side effects are symptoms a person experiences as a result of taking a medication or getting a vaccine. Although most side effects are not serious, there are usually some side effects that could indicate a serious complication. Always ask your doctor about any possible side effects of any vaccine or prescription medication. Below are some of the most common side effects related to the vaccines we’ve discussed:
Whooping Cough – redness, pain, or swelling at the injection site; body ache, fatigue, fever.4
Flu – redness, pain, or swelling at the injection site; headache, fever, nausea, muscle aches.5
Hepatitis A – redness, pain, swelling, or a hard lump at the injection site; fever, loss of appetite, nausea, headache.6
Hepatitis B – redness, pain, or swelling at the injection site; headache, fever.7
Please note some people may experience different side effects that are not listed above. Remember to report any unusual or severe side effects to your healthcare provider and contact your doctor or call 911 in the event of the following potentially life-threatening side effects4-7:
- Swelling of the face or throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Fast heartbeat
Prenate® Vitamin Family
This post is sponsored by the Prenate® Vitamin Family, a line of prescription prenatal supplements designed to enhance preconception, prenatal, and postpartum nutrition in women. Talk with your doctor about how taking a daily prescription prenatal or postnatal vitamin could help support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum wellness.