Vaccines During Pregnancy

Last Updated on

Sharing is caring!

Vaccines During Pregnancy

I see questions regarding vaccinations during pregnancy all the time.  I’m also a pharmacist trained to provide all standard immunizations.  From both my role as a pharmacist and as a mom, I know that doctors recommend vaccinations but often provide very little information.  There is also a lot of misinformation floating around about the safety of vaccinations. 

Here I’m going to answer the common questions about vaccinations in pregnancy.


Other Posts You May Like


Let’s start with the flu shot.

Q: Should I get a flu shot during pregnancy?

A: The flu shot is recommended every year regardless of whether or not you are pregnant. If you happen to be pregnant at the time you would normally get the flu shot, then it’s important to get it because your immune system isn’t as strong during pregnancy.  However, you should only get the injection (not the nasal version) because the injection is a killed vaccine whereas the nasal version is live.

Q: What is the chance the flu shot will give me the flu?

A: There is a 0% chance you will get the flu from the flu shot. The injection is a killed vaccine which means it is absolutely impossible for the virus to multiply.  There are no zombie viruses (although that would make for a good horror movie).  What you might get (and why people often say the shot gives them the flu) includes a sore arm and a mild fever.  If these occur, they can be treated with Tylenol.  These are signs that your body is mounting a defense against the virus (which is a good thing).  Tylenol can help if the symptoms are bothersome, but they will go away in a couple of days regardless of whether you treat them.

Q: Does the flu shot actually work?

A: How well the flu shot works varies from year to year.  The flu is a virus and viruses mutate to prevent detection by the body.  Therefore, the flu virus looks a little different each year.  These different versions of the virus are called strains.  Each winter/spring the CDC tries to determine what strains of the virus are going to be present for the coming flu season.  The flu vaccine contains the 4 strains that are predicted to be the most problematic.  The efficacy of the vaccine is based on how well the researchers guessed when determining the strains. 

It’s also important to note that the flu vaccine is for the respiratory flu, not the stomach flu.  The stomach flu may make you miserable for a few days, but it isn’t going to kill anyone.  The respiratory flu on the other hand is extremely dangerous for the elderly and babies to get. 


Related Content

Q: Will the flu shot hurt my baby?

A: The flu shot will actually help your baby.  While you are pregnant, the antibodies (the cells that are designed to attack specific viruses) are transferred to your baby.  Once your baby is born, the antibodies will last for a few months.  Therefore, by getting vaccinated you provide protection for your baby until they are old enough to get vaccinated.

Q: I got the flu shot last year, why do I need it again?

A: Like I mentioned above, the strains that cause the flu change each year which means the vaccine has to change each year.  Therefore, you need to get the current vaccine to be protected from the current year’s strains.

Now let’s move onto the Tdap vaccine.

Q: What is Tdap? 

A: Tdap is a combination that stands for tetanus, diptheria, acellular pertussis.  The main reason you are getting this vaccine is for the acellular pertussis component.  This is just a fancy name for whooping cough.  The whooping cough vaccine only comes in combination with tetanus and diptheria. You can’t get it alone.

Q: Do I need a Tdap vaccination during pregnancy?

A: Yes. It is recommended that a pregnant woman get the Tdap vaccine during the third trimester of every pregnancy.

Q: Why do I need this vaccine?

A: Whooping cough is annoying for healthy adults, but it’s not life-threatening.  However, infants die every year from whooping cough.  Sometimes they develop a really bad cough, but other times they turn blue and stop breathing.  A baby that develops whooping cough will often have to be admitted to the hospital for treatment, and the younger the baby is, the more likely it is that serious complications will occur.

Q: Will I get sick from the vaccine?

A: Tdap is a killed vaccine.  Therefore, like the flu shot, it is impossible for the virus to come alive and replicate.  You may get a sore arm from the vaccine, but this will go away within a couple days.  If it’s bothersome, you can treat it with Tylenol. 

Q: If I have two pregnancies close together, do I have to get the Tdap vaccine during both?

A: The benefits of passing the antibodies onto your baby are significant enough that it’s recommended for you to get the vaccine during the third trimester of every pregnancy regardless of how close together they are. 

Now for some general vaccine questions.

Q: Are there any vaccinations that I should not get while pregnant?

A: During pregnancy you should not receive any live vaccines.  The live vaccines include MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Varicella (chicken pox), Herpes Zoster and oral typhoid vaccine.  These 4 vaccines are live which means that there is a tiny chance that they could cause the illness (compared to the other vaccines where it is completely impossible).

Q: Do I need to get any other vaccinations while pregnant?

A: There aren’t any other vaccinations that are recommended for all pregnant woman.  However, if there are other vaccinations that you are due for based on your vaccination schedule, you can get these (just not the live ones mentioned above).

Q: Do people that come visit the baby need to be vaccinated?

A: This is your choice as the parent.  Personally, I required all people that were coming to stay with us during the first 6 months have a flu shot and Tdap vaccination.  My suggestion is to require flu shot and Tdap for everyone that will be spending a significant amount of time holding your baby during the first few months.  By surrounding your baby with people that are vaccinated, you are creating herd immunity. Herd immunity refers to surrounding an individual that can’t be vaccinated, such as a newborn, with people that are vaccinated which prevents transmission of the virus.

Now you are educated on the basic vaccinations during pregnancy.  If you have further questions ask your doctor or pharmacist, so that you get all the facts.   If you want to learn more, check out the following resources:

Like what you read? Subscribe in the sidebar so you don’t miss any great content!

Vaccines During Pregnancy

46 thoughts on “Vaccines During Pregnancy

  • January 29, 2019 at 3:03 am
    Permalink

    This is an AMAZING post!! It is so easy to read and understand and presents the information so clearly! Thank you for taking the time to go into detail and answer all of these common questions!

    Reply
    • January 29, 2019 at 9:04 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you so much! I know that medical professionals often forget that many people don’t understand the language that is second nature to health professionals. I hope with this post, I helped break it down for someone so that they feel more comfortable with the basics and informed to make a decision.

      Reply
  • January 29, 2019 at 6:34 pm
    Permalink

    Great information! I know that’s been a large amount of controversy surrounding vaccines and whether or not you should be giving the flu shot to your child. Personally, I stand by it, and my wife works in day care and she stands behind it as well. I didn’t know what the Tdap was until this post, but it sounds helpful to me. Thanks for the info!

    Reply
    • January 29, 2019 at 9:06 pm
      Permalink

      There is so much controversy and I think a lot of it stems from lack of understanding and I know healthcare professionals don’t explain vaccinations as well as we could. I hope this post provides the explanations someone needs to make informed decisions.

      Reply
  • January 29, 2019 at 6:46 pm
    Permalink

    I’m not pregnant but I’m on the anti-anti vaxxer train. These anti-vaxxers are about to ruin our country esp with this current Measles out break. I’m glad there’s still people who care about vaccinations.

    Reply
    • January 29, 2019 at 9:07 pm
      Permalink

      I’m hopeful that education will help some people with making informed decisions. I also think healthcare providers could provide more information as I hear a lot of confusion.

      Reply
  • January 29, 2019 at 7:27 pm
    Permalink

    You are speaking my language. I have been in Pharma for over 14 years and there is so much false information spread about vaccines it is crazy. Thank you for pointing this out in a nice clear concise format.

    Reply
    • January 29, 2019 at 9:09 pm
      Permalink

      I’m glad you found it clearly presented! Rational, clear, basic explanations I think will help with making informed decisions. So much of the problem I see is people who haven’t been given much (if any) information from a medical professional and are weary of doing what the doctor said without doing research. The “research” then results in finding all the misinformation that is readily available.

      Reply
  • January 29, 2019 at 8:51 pm
    Permalink

    I was just at the doctor the other day and overheard a pregnant patient asking if she should get the flu shot. I was surprised that she needed to ask that, but it’s true that not everyone is aware of how vaccinations work.

    Reply
    • January 29, 2019 at 9:11 pm
      Permalink

      I have the same problem with assuming that everyone knows the same things I do. However, I also know that there are plenty of topics where I don’t even know the basic concepts, so I try to remind myself that the same applies for others regarding healthcare topics.

      Reply
  • January 29, 2019 at 11:24 pm
    Permalink

    Rational, sensible and clearly-explained posts like this are vital to help people understand how critical and how safe vaccination is. The misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers is dangerous. thank you so much for this excellent post.

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:38 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks! I always get frustrated when people ask for information and then are bombarded with a lot of incorrect information. Hopefully this will help some soon-to-be moms out.

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 12:16 am
    Permalink

    Fantastic tips! I have done some writing on vaccines and chronic illness myself, particularly for people who are immunosuppressed, but not from the early childhood and pregnancy point of view. This is a terrific resource. Thanks so much for writing it.

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:38 pm
      Permalink

      Vaccines in people that are immunosuppressed is a great area that can benefit from clear explanation!

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 12:25 am
    Permalink

    wow, this is so informative, especially for momma-to-be’s! I will definitely be sharing with my friends. thanks for sharing xx

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:39 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks! Hopefully it helps clear up some confusion for pregnant women.

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 2:03 am
    Permalink

    I cannot love this post enough! It is so clearly written where people can understand it. I learned a ton just by reading this. Thank you so much for posting. I think more people need to read articles like this to really understand vaccinations. More should be written like this too, because it was so easy to understand and follow.

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:40 pm
      Permalink

      I’m glad you found it helpful! There is so much misinformation out there that it’s sometimes like screaming into the wind to try and get the correct information heard. I hope this post is helpful for some soon-to-be mommas.

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 7:42 am
    Permalink

    Hmmmm, interesting! My OBGYN didn’t have me retake the TDAP since my pregnancies were so close together.

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:41 pm
      Permalink

      There is an increased risk of pain at the site of injection when you have had it recently.

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 7:52 am
    Permalink

    Wow this was very informative yet understandable! A lot of my friends are pregnant or having babies and when the time comes and they have these questions about vaccines I’d definitely refer them to this post.

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:43 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks! I wanted to provide something that clearly explained the information.

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 12:40 pm
    Permalink

    You have made this very easy to understand. Thanks for breaking this down. The debate about vaccinations is one that will not be resolved quickly, but your information here is gold.

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:44 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks! I figured if I can help at least one soon-to-be mom understand the facts about vaccines in pregnancy, then the post was worth it.

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 1:05 pm
    Permalink

    Great post! You’re clear and complete with the information in a way that everyone can understand. That’s for educating about the importance of vaccines, how they work and what one needs to know while pregnant. Thanks!

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:45 pm
      Permalink

      I’m glad you found the information helpful!

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 1:11 pm
    Permalink

    It’s hard to know what’s safe during pregnancy and not. Even something as simple as eating cold lunch meat. This is helpful information for new moms.

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:46 pm
      Permalink

      There is so much confusion and a lot of it stems from lack of information and misinformation floating around. I wanted to provide a simple resource for one little part of the confusion.

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 1:40 pm
    Permalink

    This is really great advice–clear and easy to understand. Thanks for explaining about nasal spray vs. injection for the flu shot.

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:47 pm
      Permalink

      The live versus killed vaccine concept is something that is confusing to a lot of people, and the flu shot can be extra confusing because some forms are killed and some are live.

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 9:25 pm
    Permalink

    This is good information! Thanks for sharing and clearing up some common misunderstandings!

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:47 pm
      Permalink

      I’m glad you found it helpful!

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 9:29 pm
    Permalink

    There has been so much of debate on this issue. Loved your effort to present it in a simplified manner. Very clear and easy explanation . Liked it!

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:48 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks! I think a lot of the debate is fueled by lack of understanding, so I wanted to provide information that is easy to follow and answers a lot of the common questions.

      Reply
  • January 31, 2019 at 12:51 am
    Permalink

    Very informative post! There are many things we should be well informed about before deciding on what to do. This is definitely one of them

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:49 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks! I agree that being informed is essential to making important decisions.

      Reply
  • January 31, 2019 at 9:44 am
    Permalink

    This is very interesting. The information is going to be extra helpful should I ever fall pregnant. Thank you. Will be sharing with my mother to be friends.

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:49 pm
      Permalink

      If it helps even one soon-to-be mom become more educated on the issue of vaccines in pregnancy, then it was worth my time writing it.

      Reply
  • January 31, 2019 at 11:55 am
    Permalink

    This was so informational! During pregnancy I usually feel the best as far as health goes. One of the girls I’m friends with couldn’t get the Tdap shot because she was allergic to it. I never heard of someone being allergic, so she was extra cautious with every newborn and young baby around her as well as her own. Great post Lauren!

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:51 pm
      Permalink

      People can definitely be allergic to particular vaccines just like with foods. Your friend was very smart to be extra cautious since she couldn’t receive the vaccine. That’s why it’s important for everyone who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated so that we can provide herd immunity for those who can’t receive a certain vaccine.

      Reply
  • January 31, 2019 at 3:38 pm
    Permalink

    Vaccines are so important! I make sure to get mine and all of my kids their flu shot every year!

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:52 pm
      Permalink

      *High five* That’s great to hear!

      Reply
  • February 1, 2019 at 4:07 am
    Permalink

    This is so informative! I am a Labor and Delivery nurse and can not stress the importance of the TDAP for all who are involved in the care of a newborn.
    Thank you for taking the time to break this down!
    Trish

    Reply
    • February 2, 2019 at 8:53 pm
      Permalink

      Many think that vaccines are to keep you from getting sick, but they are just as much to keep those that can’t be vaccinated (like newborns) healthy.

      Reply
  • February 3, 2019 at 2:25 pm
    Permalink

    This is a very informative post! Thank you for taking the time to share all this valuable information. I had no idea I needed the TDAP during my second pregnancy. I assumed that once I had it with my first, it would cover me for several years. I ended up getting the TDAP, Flu and Rhogam shot during the same OB appointment.

    Reply
    • February 5, 2019 at 5:40 am
      Permalink

      I think the medical field doesn’t do a great job of explaining the why behind the vaccine recommendations, so we are left to blindy take recommendations or do our own research with a lot of questionable information out there.

      Reply

Share Your Thoughts!