Getting up-to-date on immunizations is the first thing a doctor advises a woman trying to conceive. However, statistics prove that a vast majority of women visit the obstetrician’s office only after they get pregnant. Thus, many women are not aware and have not received all the shots needed to reduce their susceptibility to diseases.
Can they be vaccinated during pregnancy? Besides, what if a pregnant woman is exposed to a disease? Will the doctor consider vaccination then? Will vaccinations harm the unborn baby?
This article aims at addressing all the questions related to vaccination during pregnancy.
Why do pregnant women need to be vaccinated?
Like every other individual, a pregnant woman is vulnerable to various diseases. However, diseases in a pregnant woman call for greater attention because they harm the unborn baby. Additionally, they increase the complications for the mother as well.
For example, if a woman gets chickenpox when pregnant, it could result in birth defects in the fetus while the mother may develop pneumonia which can be fatal.
Among the many diseases a woman can contract during pregnancy, there are some that can be prevented with the help of immunizations. Thus, vaccinations reduce the risk of diseases. They enhance the mother’s health and protect the unborn baby from potentially harmful diseases.
Can you be vaccinated during pregnancy?
Vaccinations before conception is regarded a safer and better option to immunization during pregnancy. Women should receive all the shots before trying to conceive. Nevertheless, there are certain vaccinations that can be administered during pregnancy. Certain vaccines can be administered on the second trimester while others have to wait for the third trimester or three months after childbirth to be taken.
In case you are exposed to a particular disease, the doctor or health care provider will weigh the risks and benefits of the vaccines before taking any action. You should also talk to your doctor about allergies if you suffer from any before getting a vaccine.
Will the vaccine harm your unborn child?
The answer to this is a Yes and No. Live Virus vaccines harm the baby, but inactivated virus (killed virus) vaccines will not harm the baby.
Vaccinations are developed by using strains of the virus itself. There are two types of vaccines. The live virus vaccines use the live or weakened strains of the virus. There is a possibility that the attenuated virus could result in an infection in the mother that might be passed on to the unborn baby resulting is birth defects, premature birth or even miscarriage. Hence, live virus vaccines are not considered safe during pregnancy. The second type of vaccines are developed using the killed strains of the virus and are therefore considered safe during pregnancy.
Vaccines you can receive during pregnancy
Following is a list of vaccines women can take during pregnancy:
- Hepatitis B – Pregnant women who display a risk of infection can receive this vaccine to protect the mother and child.
- Influenza – Also called the flue shot, the influenza vaccine is considered safe during all trimesters of pregnancy. It should be taken by pregnant women during the flu season. You should not take the nasal spray vaccine as it contains live virus strains.
- Tetanus/ Diphtheria/ Pertussis (Tdap) – This combination is given to women to reduce the risk of life threatening conditions such as whopping cough, tetanus and diphtheria. It is administered between 27 and 36 weeks of gestation.
Vaccines you should not take during pregnancy
The following vaccines are considered unsafe during pregnancy:
- Hepatitis A – The safety of the hepatitis A has not yet been established and so is better avoided.
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) – This vaccine is the most dangerous to both the mother and the child. Measles infection could cause premature delivery or abortion. Rubella could cause Congenital Rubella Syndrome which includes fetal abnormalities such as mental retardation, heart defects and deafness.
- Varicella – The chickenpox vaccine should be taken one month before conception. Varicella vaccine in pregnant women causes pneumonia requiring hospitalization and improper limb development in the unborn baby.
- Polio Vaccine – The Polio vaccine both the inactivated virus and oral versions are not recommended for pregnant women.
- Typhoid Vaccines – Researchers are still studying the impacts of the typhoid vaccine on the mother and unborn child. Hence, it is not recommended.
- Pneumococcal – This vaccine should also be avoided unless if you have a high risk or suffer from a chronic illness.