Pregnancy is such a special time for the entire expecting family. It is a time of planning and preparing for the birth of a child. It is also important to begin considering the steps you can take to help keep yourself and your baby protected from vaccine-preventable diseases both now and throughout your child’s life.
If you are planning to become pregnant, there are things you can do before and between pregnancies to increase your chances of having a healthy baby such as taking folic acid every day, quitting smoking, and making sure you are up-to-date on all recommended vaccines. Learn more about the vaccines that can help you prepare for a healthy pregnancy.
Vaccines are also a part of a healthy pregnancy. When you get vaccinated during pregnancy, you are not only protecting yourself against dangerous, potentially deadly diseases, you are also protecting your baby.
When a pregnant person gets vaccinated, their body creates protective antibodies (immunity against diseases) and passes some of these antibodies to their baby that will last until their little one is ready to start getting their own vaccines.
Your OB-GYN or midwife can tell you which vaccines are right for you throughout your pregnancy, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American College of Nurse-Midwives, and other pregnancy experts strongly recommend the COVID-19, flu and Tdap (whooping cough) vaccines for pregnant women. Learn more about each recommended vaccine.
Pregnancy is also good time to start thinking about the vaccines your baby will need once they are born. Visit our Babies & Children section to learn more about the importance of vaccinating your child according to the recommended immunization schedule.
Questions about the safety of vaccinating during pregnancy? See answers below in Commonly Asked Questions About Vaccines for Pregnant Women. Find more answers to your questions about vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, in the Questions About Vaccines section of this website.
Yes. The CDC, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists(ACOG) ,the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) and other pregnancy experts all strongly recommend that pregnant people get a flu shot for the best protection – for them and their babies – against serious flu illness and flu-related complications.
The flu shot is safe, during any trimester, for both you and your baby. The flu shot has been safely given to millions of pregnant individuals over many years. You can not get the flu – or give your baby the flu – from getting the flu vaccine.
Multiple studies have shown that people who have gotten flu shots during pregnancy HAVE NOT had a higher risk for miscarriage. One of the largest and strongest studies was conducted in CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) project. The study looked at three flu seasons to see if there was any increased risk for miscarriage among pregnant women who had received a flu vaccine during their pregnancy. The study found NO increased risk for miscarriage after flu vaccination during pregnancy
It is also safe for women to get the flu vaccine while breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeeding also helps to protect babies because breast milk passes your antibodies to your baby, and these antibodies help your baby fight off flu.
Following is a list of studies that show that the flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy. Click on the studies below to read the research.
Current Flu Season (VYF)
Vaccination During Pregnancy (VYF Handout)
Quick Facts About Vaccines in Pregnancy (SMFM – highriskpregnancyinfo.org)
Flu shots have been safely given to millions of pregnant people over many years.
The CDC monitors flu vaccine safety in pregnant women during each flu season using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) – a U.S. system that monitors health concerns following vaccination. In addition, vaccine safety research is done through the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD). which is a collaboration between CDC and nine healthcare organizations.
View the large number of vaccine safety studies on flu vaccination during pregnancy.
The CDC, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists(ACOG), the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), and other medical/pregnancy experts strongly recommend that pregnant individuals get a flu shot for the best protection – for them and their babies – against serious flu illness and flu-related complications.
Current Flu Season (VYF)
Quick Facts About Vaccines in Pregnancy (SMFM – highriskpregnancyinfo.org)
Yes. Tdap vaccinations during pregnancy have been studied for both safety and effectiveness. Medical and public health experts agree that the benefits of Tdap vaccination during pregnancy outweighs any potential risks to moms and babies. See the research that has been done to make sure the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy is safe and effective for women and their babies.
The CDC, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; and Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses all strongly recommend that women get a Tdap vaccination during the third trimester of every pregnancy to protect them and their babies against whooping cough.
No. The way that flu vaccines are made they cannot cause the flu. Flu shots are made from either flu viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ (killed) OR from proteins of a flu virus (instead of the full virus) so they can create an immune response without causing a flu infection.
While some people may get mild side effects from the flu shot like a sore arm, a headache, muscle aches or a low fever, those side effects usually begin soon after the shot and only last 1 -2 days.
Learn more about the current flu season and the flu vaccine.
Learn more about how vaccines work.
Getting a Tdap shot during every pregnancy – as opposed to before or after – allows your body to pass on some protective antibodies against whooping cough (immunity) to your baby. This is especially important since babies don’t start their own whooping cough vaccination series (DTaP) until they are 2 months old.
Getting vaccinated with Tdap during pregnancy also protects you during delivery and will make you less likely to pass whooping cough to your newborn.
A study published in Pediatrics in May 2017 looked to see how effective the Tdap vaccine was at preventing whooping cough in babies whose mothers got the vaccine while pregnant or in the hospital after giving birth. The study found that getting Tdap between the 27th through 36th weeks of pregnancy is 85% more effective at preventing whooping cough in babies younger than 2 months old.
Additionally, authors of the study, Sources of Infant Pertussis Infection in the United States published in October 2015 in Pediatrics, state that vaccinating pregnant women with Tdap increases protection of their babies.
Yes. You can safely get the flu and the Tdap (whooping cough) vaccines at the same time.
Yes. Pregnant women can safely get the Tdap vaccine even if they recently got a tetanus-containing vaccine (Td or Tdap).
It does not matter when you got your last tetanus shot (Tdap or Td vaccine), you still need the Tdap vaccine during the 3rd trimester of each pregnancy to protect yourself and your newborn from whooping cough.
The protection (antibodies) that you pass on to your baby before birth is very important and will give them some early protection against flu and whooping cough.
However, these antibodies will only give your baby short-term protection. That’s why it is also very important for your baby to get vaccinated according to the CDC’s recommended childhood immunization schedule, so he can start building his own protection against these dangerous diseases.
You may have heard that vaccines contain all types of crazy ingredients that sound as though they don’t belong in a medical product. The truth is that a very small group of very vocal, but misinformed, individuals have made false claims regarding the safety of vaccines and their ingredients. In most instances these claims are just wrong. In other cases, the claims are from information taken out of context or are trying to purposely mislead people.
The main ingredients in vaccines are antigens, which are small amounts of the bacteria or virus against which the person is being vaccinated. Antigens are the parts of the vaccine that encourage your immune system to create antibodies to fight against future infections. To make sure that the vaccines cannot cause the disease you are trying to protect against, the antigens are altered or weakened. Learn more about how vaccines are made and how they work.
Like many of the foods we eat and beverages we drink, vaccines also contain a small amount of additional ingredients, and each has a specific, necessary function. These ingredients may be added to the vaccine to make it more effective, sterile and/or safe. These additional ingredients have been studied and are safe for humans in the amount used in vaccines.
In fact, the amount of these additional ingredients in vaccines is much less than children encounter in their environment, food and water. As the saying goes, “the dose makes the poison.” In other words, any chemical – even water or oxygen – can be toxic or even deadly in large enough quantities.
Sometimes a child may be sensitive to one of the components of a vaccine, and an allergic reaction may result. For this reason, you should discuss any allergies your child may have with their healthcare provider. Click here and see below to learn about the ingredients that may be found in certain vaccines and their purpose.
Is there mercury (thimerosal) in vaccines? Is that dangerous?
I’ve heard there are ingredients in vaccines that can harm children. Is this true?
Visit VYF’s Questions about Vaccines section for answers to your questions about vaccine safety, vaccine ingredients, vaccine schedules, COVID-19 vaccines and much more.
You can find more information on flu and Tdap vaccines during pregnancy here.
You can find more information on vaccines for babies and children here.