This year, World Immunization Week started April 24th. This reminds us to revisit the importance of immunizations for women before, during, and after pregnancy. If you are pregnant or planning for pregnancy, you will need certain vaccinations, which will depend on your age, lifestyle, types of travel, travel destinations, immunization records, and medical conditions.

The vaccines you receive will not only protect your own health but will safeguard your baby’s health, as well. While you are pregnant, your immunity is your unborn child’s first line of defense to combat certain serious illnesses. Whether you’re pregnant now or planning for pregnancy, take the time to ensure your immunizations are current.

Types of immunizations

There are three types of vaccinations:

  • Live virus vaccine – Reduced virulence, but still viable
  • Dead virus vaccine – Consists of virus particles grown in culture and killed
  • Toxoid vaccine – Chemically altered proteins extracted from certain bacteria 

Before pregnancy

Prior to pregnancy, a woman should be up-to-date on routine and adult vaccines. Live virus vaccines, like MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and chickenpox, should be given a month or more prior to pregnancy. Dead virus vaccines are safe before and during pregnancy, if needed.

During pregnancy

Not all vaccines are safe during pregnancy. Pregnant women shouldn’t receive live virus vaccines, such as the MMR vaccine, due to the slight chance that it could harm the baby. Vaccines made from dead viruses are safe during pregnancy. These include:

Influenza vaccine

The inactivated flu vaccine is a safe and crucial vaccine for pregnant woman to receive. Pregnant women who contract the flu are at a higher risk for severe complications than women who aren’t pregnant.

Tdap vaccine

Women should receive the tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) anywhere between 27 and 36 weeks pregnant.

Travel vaccines

Many diseases that are common in other areas of the world are easily preventable with vaccinations available in the United States. A pregnant woman planning to travel internationally should talk to her doctor about important vaccines.

After pregnancy

After pregnancy, you can catch up on any vaccines you were unable to receive while pregnant or prior to pregnancy, including MMR and chickenpox vaccines. It is safe for a woman to receive these vaccines after giving birth, even while breastfeeding.

In addition, be sure to keep an up-to-date record of your vaccinations. This information will help your physicians determine which vaccines you may need during pregnancy. Contact your guardians or previous health care providers if you are missing this information.

For more about important immunizations and planning for a health pregnancy, call the reproductive specialists at Center for Reproductive Medicine today at (612) 863-6137 to schedule an appointment.