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Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital

Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital
Affiliated with Levine Children's Hospital
920 Church Street N
Concord, NC 28025
(800) 575-1275


Can Getting Immunizations Affect My Unborn Baby?

My workplace expects us to get several vaccines regularly. But I'm pregnant and worried these might not be safe for my baby. Should I be concerned?
Emma

It's best to get vaccines before pregnancy when possible, but some can be given while a woman is pregnant.

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone, including pregnant women, during flu season. In fact, it's extra important for pregnant women because the vaccine 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.

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.

The COVID-19 vaccines were not studied in pregnant or breastfeeding women, so at first it wasn't clear whether they should get one. Health experts now know that the vaccine is safe — and, of course, getting sick with COVID-19 is not safe. Pregnant women who get COVID-19 are more likely to have severe illness than those who aren't pregnant. So experts recommend that all pregnant and breastfeeding women get the COVID-19 vaccine and, later, a booster dose.

Some vaccines should not be given during pregnancy, such as the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR), human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, and chickenpox (varicella) vaccine.

Before you get any vaccines during pregnancy, check with your doctor to make sure they're right for you.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: November 2021