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Can Getting Immunizations Affect My Unborn Baby?

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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 women who were pregnant or breastfeeding, so at first it wasn't clear whether these woman should get them. Experts believe the vaccines are unlikely to be a risk for pregnant or breastfeeding women or their babies. They encourage women to speak to their doctor and decide together whether the vaccine is right for them.

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.

Date reviewed: May 2021