Written by Liza John
If “Prevention is better than cure” was a product, it would be a vaccine. Vaccines are medicines, that help protect you from harmful diseases and infections. Vaccinations, keep both you and your baby safe during pregnancy.
However, not all vaccines are safe to get before getting pregnant or during pregnancy. So before getting any vaccine, it is advised to consult your healthcare provider about vaccinations that are safe to get during pregnancy.
That said, here’s everything you need to know about vaccines and pregnancy.
Vaccines Before Pregnancy
According to the Centre for Disease Control, here are some points you need to keep in mind about vaccines before pregnancy.
Vaccination Record: Keep an accurate record of vaccines you have received. Sharing this information with your healthcare providers, will better equip them to determine which vaccines you need to get before and during your pregnancy. ‘
Stay Up to Date: To protect you and your child from any serious illnesses, ensure that your vaccinations are up to date before you get pregnant. Some illnesses like Rubella can lead to miscarriages or severe birth defects, if contracted during pregnancy. Get the MMR vaccine before getting pregnant, and ensure you are immune to such diseases by undergoing a blood test.
Are Vaccines Safe During Pregnancy?
Some vaccines are safe for women before, during, and after pregnancy. Women are advised to take these vaccines to keep their babies and themselves healthy. The antibodies that mothers produce because of the vaccines, pass through the placenta, and offer their protection to the babies early on.
However, on the other hand, some vaccines, especially live-virus vaccines, could be harmful to the baby and shouldn’t be administered to pregnant women or women who plan to be pregnant.
Before getting vaccinated, another key point to consider is allergies. If you have experienced severe allergies or allergic reactions to some vaccine in the past, communicate it with your healthcare provider. Based on your allergies, the healthcare provider will come up with a list of vaccines that would be safe for you or advise alternatives.
Vaccines You Should Get During Pregnancy
Vaccines that contain inactivated viruses can be administered during pregnancy. Generally, two vaccines are recommended for pregnant women:
Flu or Influenza shot: Pregnant women are likely to incur severe illnesses from flu, due to the changes in heart, immune and respiratory functioning. Get your yearly flu shots, to protect yourself and your baby from flu-related complications.
The shot is made from killed viruses, so it won’t harm your baby. However, avoid taking the influenza nasal spray, which is made from a live virus.
Tdap Vaccine: Whooping cough or pertussis, can be life-threatening for a newborn. The worst part is that some babies don’t even cough at all, instead they may stop breathing and turn blue.
About 7 in 10 deaths due to whooping coughs are seen in babies who are two months or younger. It is too early to administer Tdap vaccine in these babies.
Receiving a Tdap vaccine while you are pregnant ensures that some of these antibodies are passed onto the baby before birth. This will provide a short-term protection against the Whooping Cough in newborns.
In some cases, women may need to get other vaccines before, during or after pregnancy. If you are pregnant and need to travel abroad, you might want to discuss it with your healthcare professional about 4 to 6 weeks before your departure, to know about any special vaccines you may need.
Covid-19 Vaccines During Pregnancy
Pregnant women are at a higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 compared to others. This may lead to hospitalisations, intensive care, need for ventilators or special breathing equipment’s, or even death. Additionally, Covid-19 during pregnancy may lead to preterm birth, still birth or an increased risk of complications during pregnancy.
The safety and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines during pregnancy are largely unknown. However, studies suggest that the benefits of receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, outweigh the risks. In fact, early data suggests that getting a Covid-19 vaccine reduces the risk of infection and may even build antibodies that protect the baby as well.
Vaccines are beneficial for both baby and the mother in most cases. However, your healthcare provider would recommend you avoid vaccines containing live viruses, such as Chickenpox vaccine, MMR vaccines, or Shingles vaccine. Consult your healthcare provider, before taking any vaccines if you are or plan to get pregnant.