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Which vaccinations should I have during pregnancy?

Among all the health questions that arise during pregnancy, one of the biggest is: what medicines and vaccines are safe during this time?

The most important vaccine during pregnancy is for influenza. The “flu shot” is given annually to combat the anticipated strains of flu circulating in that given year, and it is of paramount importance for pregnant women to receive the inactivated flu vaccine. Contracting the flu during pregnancy puts you at serious risk for complications and hospitalization, and symptoms can be detrimental to the pregnancy.

You should also get the Tdap vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis during each pregnancy. Ideally, this will be administered between weeks 27 and 36 of your pregnancy during your third trimester.

Some of a woman’s immunity to disease is passed along to their baby during pregnancy, protecting them from some diseases during the first few months of life, before the baby’s 2-month checkup when initial vaccines are routinely administered.

In addition to boosting your immunity during pregnancy, you should be cautious about travel to areas known to be common locations for vaccine-preventable diseases. Talk to your doctor about any planned international travel and work together on a care plan if the trip is unavoidable.

Some vaccines can and should be given during a pregnancy, while others, specifically the ones containing live viral particles, should not be given. For this reason, it is best to see a doctor before pregnancy to assess immunity and receive any vaccines that are needed. Common vaccines in this category are MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and varicella (chickenpox).

Once pregnancy is established, women should receive the flu vaccine if they will be pregnant during influenza (flu) season and the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) regardless of time of year. After delivery, the MMR and varicella vaccines can be given if indicated.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.