Are Vaccines Safe During Pregnancy?
Can I Get Vaccines While I'm Pregnant?
It's best to get vaccines before pregnancy, when possible. But some can be given during a pregnancy, and there are a couple that pregnant women should get.
Your doctor may say it's OK to get a vaccine if:
- there's a good chance that you could be exposed to a particular disease or infection and the benefits of vaccinating you outweigh the potential risks
- an infection would pose a risk to you or your baby
- the vaccine is unlikely to cause harm
Which Vaccines Are Recommended?
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone, including pregnant women, during flu season. In fact, it's extra important for pregnant women because it helps prevent flu-related problems that are more common during pregnancy. And the vaccine is safe — studies show no harmful effects to the fetus. It also helps protect a mother and her baby from the flu in the baby's first year of life.
The flu vaccine comes in two forms: the flu shot (injected with a needle) and the nasal spray (a mist sprayed into the nostrils). Pregnant women should only get the flu shot. It's made with a killed flu virus, so won't affect the fetus. The nasal spray contains a live weaker form of the virus and isn't safe for moms-to-be.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should make sure they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is safe for them — and, of course, getting sick with COVID-19 is not safe. Pregnant women who get COVID-19 are at higher risk for severe illness than women who aren't pregnant.
The Tdap vaccine (against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) is recommended for all pregnant women in the second half of each pregnancy, no matter if they've gotten it before or when they last got it. This is due to a rise in whooping cough infections, which can be fatal in newborns who have not yet had their routine vaccinations. And an RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) vaccine is now recommended for all pregnant women in their third trimester whose babies will be born just before or during RSV season (usually fall to spring in the U.S.). This vaccine will protect newborn babies from getting very sick with RSV.
Other vaccines that are considered safe during pregnancy if truly necessary are:
Which Vaccines Should Not Be Given During Pregnancy?
Some vaccines should not be given during pregnancy, such as the:
- measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine
- human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
- chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
That's because these are live vaccines, which means they contain a small amount of weakened live virus. There is a concern that the weak virus can cross the placenta and infect the fetus. Talk to your doctor if you might have been exposed to one of these infections, or if you learned that you were pregnant soon after getting one of these vaccines.
What Else Should I Know?
Talk to your doctor before getting any vaccination during pregnancy. Also tell your doctor if you became pregnant within 4 weeks of having a vaccine. If your workplace requires any vaccines, let them know you're pregnant before agreeing to be immunized.