Vaccination is one of the many ways to help keep both mother and baby safe from disease. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend that all women, including those pregnant and breastfeeding, receive both the influenza and Tdap vaccine at every pregnancy, which will protect both mother and newborn. If you have not received these important vaccines, please call our office today.
There seems to be a lot of misinformation on the internet. To better inform you with scientifically sound answers to questions about the safety of vaccines and the importance of vaccinations please visit the following websites, from national non-profit organizations:
This is somewhat long, but here are some frequently asked questions about each vaccine:
Frequently Asked Questions for Patients Concerning Tdap Vaccination
Pregnant women should receive the Tdap vaccine preferably between 27 weeks and 36 weeks of gestation to maximize the maternal antibody transfer to the fetus. The vaccine is safe and effective and has not been shown to cause any adverse effects during pregnancy, including autism. Your family members who will be in contact with your newborn, or who have contact with other infants younger than 12 months, also should be vaccinated. This helps provide protection for you newborn because he or she cannot gets this vaccination until 2 months of age.
What is pertussis (whopping cough)?
Pertussis (also called whooping cough) is a highly contagious disease that causes severe coughing. People with pertussis may make a “whooping” sound when they try to breathe and are gasping for air. In newborns (birth to 1 month), pertussis can be a life-threatening illness. Multiple recent outbreaks have demonstrated that infants who are younger than 3 months are at a very high risk of severe infection.
What is Tdap?
Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is used to prevent three infections: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
I am pregnant. Should I get a Tdap shot?
Yes. All pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccine preferably between 27 weeks and 36 weeks of gestation. The Tdap vaccine is an effective and safe way to protect you and your baby from serious illness and complications of pertussis. The Tdap vaccine should be administered during each pregnancy.
Is it safe to receive the Tdap shot during pregnancy?
Yes. There are no theoretical or proven concerns about the safety of the Tdap vaccine (or other inactivated vaccines like Tdap) during pregnancy. The available data demonstrate that the vaccine is safe when given to pregnant women or women in the postpartum period.
During which trimester is it safe to receive a Tdap shot?
It is safe to get the Tdap vaccine during all trimesters of pregnancy. Experts recommend that Tdap be administered to you during the third trimester of your pregnancy (ideally between 27 weeks and 36 weeks of gestation) to maximize the protection of your newborn. The newborn protection occurs because the protective antibodies you make after being vaccinated are transferred to the fetus and protect your newborn until he or she begins to receive the vaccines against pertussis (at 2 months of age).
Can newborns be vaccinated against pertussis?
No. Newborns cannot begin their vaccine series against pertussis until 2 months of age because the vaccine does not work in the first few weeks of life. That is partly why infants are at a higher risk of getting pertussis and getting very ill early in life.
What else can I do to protect my baby against pertussis?
Getting your Tdap shot is the most important step in protecting yourself and your baby against pertussis. It is also important to make sure all family members and caregivers are up to date with their vaccines and, if necessary, that they receive the Tdap vaccination at least 2 weeks before having contact with your baby. This creates a safety “cocoon” of vaccinated caregivers around your baby.
I am breastfeeding my baby. Is it safe to get vaccinated with Tdap?
Yes. The Tdap vaccine can safely be given to breastfeeding mothers if they have not been previously vaccinated with Tdap.
I did not receive my Tdap shot during pregnancy. Do I still need to bevaccinated?
For women not previously vaccinated with Tdap, if Tdap was not administered during pregnancy, it should be administered immediately postpartum.
I got my Tdap shot with my previous pregnancy. Do I need to be vaccinated with Tdap again in this pregnancy?
Yes. All pregnant women should be vaccinated with Tdap during each pregnancy preferably between 27 weeks and 36 weeks of gestation. This time frame is recommended in order to generate the most protection for the mother and fetus because this appears to maximize the antibodies in the newborn at birth.
I received a Tdap shot early in this pregnancy before 27–36 weeks of gestation. Do I need to get another Tdap shot during 27–36 weeks of gestation?
A pregnant woman should not be re-vaccinated later in the same pregnancy if she received the vaccine in the first or second trimester.
Flu Shot for Pregnant Patients: Frequently Asked Questions
Influenza is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Pregnant women have a higher risk for serious complications from influenza than non-pregnant women. The Influenza vaccine will protect pregnant women, their unborn babies, and protect the baby after birth. The risk for a pregnant woman and her unborn baby of getting sick with the flu is far greater than being vaccinated. We strongly recommend that pregnant women be vaccinated for seasonal flu. Please call our office to schedule your Flu shot, if you have not received it yet.
There are some people who should not get any flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
- People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously.
- Children younger than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group).
- People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated).
I am pregnant. Is it recommended to receive the inactivated influenza vaccine (flu shot)?
Yes. Flu shots are an effective and safe way to protect you and your baby from serious illness and complications of the flu. The flu shot given during pregnancy helps protect infants younger than 6 months who are too young to be vaccinated and have no other way of receiving influenza antibodies. The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years, and flu shots have been shown to be safe for pregnant women and their babies.
During which trimester is it safe to have a flu shot?
The flu shot is recommended for pregnant women and can be given at any time during pregnancy. Pregnant women are advised to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to speak to their health care providers about being immunized.
Which flu vaccine should pregnant women receive?
Pregnant women should receive the flu shot, which is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (the College) recommend that pregnant women should receive this vaccine.
Will the flu shot give me the flu?
No, you cannot get the flu from receiving the flu vaccine.
Is there a flu vaccine that pregnant women should not receive?
Yes. Pregnant women should not receive the nasal spray vaccine, which is made with the live flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine is safe for women after they have given birth, even if they are breastfeeding, and for family members.
Are preservatives in influenza vaccines safe for my baby?
Yes. The type of preservative (eg, thimerosal) used in trace amounts in some vaccines has not been shown to be harmful to a pregnant woman or her baby. Some women may be concerned about exposure to preservatives during pregnancy. Single-dose influenza vaccines that contain a mercury-free preservative are available through some manufactures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the College recommend that pregnant women may receive the inactivated influenza vaccine with or without thimerosal.
What else can I do to protect my baby against the flu?
Getting your flu shot is the most important step in protecting yourself and your baby against the flu. In addition, breastfeeding your baby and making sure other family members and caregivers receive the flu vaccine will further protect your baby.
I am breastfeeding my baby. Is it safe to get vaccinated?
Yes. Influenza vaccines can be given to breastfeeding mothers if they were not immunized when they were pregnant. Breastfeeding women can receive either the flu shot or the nasal spray. Breastfeeding mothers pass antibodies through breast milk, which may also reduce the infant’s chances of getting sick with the flu.