Some infections can harm you and your baby during pregnancy. This is why vaccinations are so important. They help protect your body from infection
. You pass this protection to your baby during pregnancy. This helps keep your baby safe during the first few months of life until he gets his own vaccinations
Vaccinations also protect you from getting a serious disease that could affect future pregnancies. Talk to your health care provider
to make sure all your vaccinations are up to date. You probably got vaccinations as a child. But they don’t all protect you for your whole life. Or there may be new vaccinations that weren’t available when you were young. Over time, some childhood vaccinations stop working, so you may need what’s called a booster shot as an adult.
Not all vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy. Here’s a chart to help you know when you can get certain vaccinations if you need them. Talk to your health care provider about vaccinations you need before, during or after pregnancy.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
recommends that you be up to date on all routine adult vaccinations before you get pregnant.
If you’re planning pregnancy, get a preconception checkup
. This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy.
At your checkup, ask your health care provider if you need any vaccinations or boosters. If you have a copy of your vaccinations record, bring it to your preconception checkup. If you don’t have a copy, your provider can do a simple blood test to find out what you need. If you do need any vaccinations, wait 1 month after you get any shot before trying to get pregnant.
These vaccinations are recommended before pregnancy:
- Flu. Get the flu shot once a year during the flu season (October through May). It protects you and your baby against both seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu, a kind of flu that spread around the world in 2009. If you come down with the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications, such as pneumonia.
- HPV. This vaccine protects against the infection that causes genital warts. The infection also may lead to cervical cancer. The CDC recommends that women up to age 26 get the HPV vaccine.
- MMR. This vaccine protects you against the measles, mumps and rubella. Measles can be harmful to pregnant women and cause miscarriage.
- Tdap. This vaccine is recommended for caregivers, close friends and relatives who spend time with your baby. It prevents pertussis (also called whooping cough). Pertussis is easily spread and very dangerous for a baby. If you're thinking about getting pregnant, ask your provider about getting the Tdap vaccine. It protects you from getting pertussis so you don't give it to your baby.
- Varicella. Chickenpox is an infection that causes itchy skin, rash and fever. It’s easily spread and can cause birth defects if you get it during pregnancy. It’s also very dangerous to a baby. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and you never had the chickenpox or the vaccine, tell your provider.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two vaccinations during pregnancy:
1. Flu vaccine if you weren't vaccinated before pregnancy
2. Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy at 27 to 36 weeks
If you come in contact with certain illnesses or if you’re at high risk for infection, your provider may recommend other vaccinations during pregnancy. These include:
- Japanese encephalitis
- Vaccinia (smallpox)
- Yellow fever
Don’t get these vaccines during pregnancy:
- BCG (tuberculosis)
- Nasal spray flu vaccine (called LAIV) (Pregnant women can get the flu shot, which is made with killed viruses.)
Wait at least 1 month after getting any of these vaccinations before you try to get pregnant.
If you didn’t catch up on vaccinations before or during pregnancy, do it after your baby’s born. This can help protect you from diseases in future pregnancies.
If you didn’t get the Tdap vaccine before or during pregnancy, you can get it right after you give birth. Getting the Tdap vaccine soon after giving birth prevents you from getting pertussis and passing it on to your baby. Your baby should get his first pertussis vaccine at 2 months old. Babies may not be fully protected until they’ve had three doses.
Until your baby gets his first pertussis shot, the best way to protect him is to get the vaccine yourself and avoid people who may have the illness. Caregivers, close friends and relatives who spend time with your baby should get vaccinated, too.
Getting vaccinated soon after giving birth can help prevent your newborn baby from getting other illnesses, too. This is because most babies don’t begin their regular vaccination schedule until 2 months of age. By you getting vaccinated, you can avoid getting sick and, in turn, passing an illness to your baby.
If you’re breastfeeding
, it’s safe for you to get routine adult vaccines. Ask your provider if you have questions.
No. Vaccinations do not
Some people are concerned that thimerosal, a chemical that has mercury
in it and is used in some vaccines, causes autism
. This concern came from a study done many years ago. The research in that study was flawed.
Since then, much careful research shows that thimerosal in vaccines did not cause autism. Thimerosal is no longer used in vaccines, except in tiny amounts in some flu shots. You can get a thimerosal-free flu vaccine if you want. Talk to your provider if you’re concerned about thimerosal in vaccines.
Last reviewed February 2013
See also: Your baby’s vaccinations, Later prenatal care checkup