August is National Immunization Awareness Month. This week’s focus is on vaccines for pregnant women.
If you are pregnant, certain vaccines can help protect you and your baby from infections. When you get the recommended vaccines during pregnancy, you pass this protection to your baby.
What vaccines do you need during pregnancy?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two vaccines during pregnancy:
- Flu. A flu shot during pregnancy protects you from serious complications and protects your baby for several months after birth. You need a flu shot every season, as the flu strain changes year to year.
- Whooping cough (or Tdap). You should get Tdap at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. It is best to get it during the earlier part of this time period. You need to get the Tdap vaccine every time you’re pregnant. When you get the Tdap vaccine during your pregnancy, your body makes antibodies and you pass some of them to your baby before birth. These antibodies give your baby some short-term, early protection against whooping cough. This helps keep him safe until he is able to get his own vaccine when he’s 2 months old.
In some special cases, other vaccines may be recommended by your provider.
- Vaccines for travel: If you plan to travel outside of the United States during your pregnancy, talk to your health care provider at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to discuss any special precautions or vaccines that you may need.
- Hepatitis B: If you are pregnant and have hepatitis B, your baby is at the highest risk for becoming infected during delivery. Talk to your provider about getting tested for hepatitis B and whether or not you should get vaccinated.
- Additional vaccines: Talk to your provider about other vaccines you may need before, during, or after you become pregnant. Not all vaccines are safe to get during pregnancy. There’re cases were some vaccines are recommended. If you have a history of chronic liver disease, your provider may ask you to get vaccinated against hepatitis A. Also, the meningococcal vaccine may be recommended by your provider if you work in a lab.