According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 40% of pregnant women worldwide received a COVID-19 vaccine in 2022. This number is expected to increase in 2023 as more vaccines become available and more pregnant women are aware of the benefits of vaccination. Vaccination for pregnant women should be of top priority to ensure the good health of the newborn child.
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Vaccination for pregnant women plays a vital role in safeguarding the health and well-being of the pregnant woman and her developing baby. The need for immunization during pregnancy arises due to the following reasons:
- Protection against infectious diseases such as influenza or whooping cough
- Strengthening the mother’s immune system
- Preventing congenital disabilities due to conditions like rubella or varicella
- Providing passive immunity to the newborn
Recommended Vaccines During Pregnancy
There are certain vaccines that every pregnant woman is recommended to get. As mentioned above, vaccination for pregnant women comes with a whole set of advantages. Some vaccines that a pregnant woman should get are:
1. Influenza shot
The flu shot is made from an inactivated influenza virus, making it safe for you and your baby. Flu vaccines have been given to millions of pregnant women over the years, and scientific evidence shows that it is secure. Getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your baby for several months after birth from flu-related complications.
2. Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine
Many newborns who contract whooping cough end up in the hospital. It can even be fatal under dire circumstances. Pregnant women are advised to get vaxxed at any time during pregnancy, but optimally between 27 and 36 weeks of each pregnancy. One can get the vaccine after just giving birth, even while breastfeeding.
3. COVID-19 Vaccine
If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you are advised to get jabbed with a COVID-19 vaccine. Researchers have found that the Covid vaccine does not pose any risk to the mother or the unborn child. If you become pregnant after receiving the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two amounts, it’s recommended that you get your second shot. It’s also recommended that pregnant people receive a COVID-19 booster shot when it’s time.
Vaccines To Get Before Pregnancy
There are many vaccines that, although you can not get during your pregnancy, but can get before getting pregnant. Make sure that you are up-to-date with all your adult vaccines. Before your pregnancy, talk with your doctor about your vaccine history. Vaccination for pregnant women includes these vaccines as well. You may need vaccines that protect against the following:
1. Hepatitis B
If you get infected with Hepatitis B during pregnancy, it can pass on to your unborn child. Hepatitis B can lead to severe and ongoing health problems for your child. One should get a blood test and consult their health practitioner before getting jabbed.
Getting rubella during your pregnancy can cause severe health defects in the fetus. It can lead to death before birth or life-long illness for your child. One is advised to get a pre-pregnancy test before to check whether you are protected from rubella. It’s imperative to wait a month after getting jabbed before you try to get pregnant.
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Vaccines To Avoid During Pregnancy
While vaccination for pregnant women is essential, a few vaccines are not recommended during pregnancy. This is so because these vaccines contain live viruses, which can potentially hamper fetal development. But there’s no evidence that any live vaccine causes congenital disabilities.
Sometimes, a live vaccine may be used during pregnancy if the risk of infection is greater than the risk of the vaccination.
Such vaccines are:
- Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine
- BCG (vaccination against tuberculosis)
- HPV Vaccine
- Live influenza vaccine
- Zoster vaccine
Certain travel vaccines will not be administered to pregnant women unless the health practitioner determines the benefits outweigh the risks.
- Oral polio (which forms part of the 6-in-1 vaccine given to infants)
- Oral typhoid
- Yellow fever
- Japanese encephalitis
Is Vaccination for Pregnant Women Safe?
Yes, getting jabbed with the recommended vaccines during pregnancy is safe. Researchers have found that vaccines safeguard the mother and child from many infections.
But, like any other medicine, vaccines also have side effects, but they are mild. These side effects go on their own within a few days of getting vaxxed. Some of the side effects are:
- Pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Muscle aches
- Feeling tired
These side effects are not limited to pregnant women. Every other person who gets vaxxed has the same side effects.
Are Vaccines Safe For A Breastfeeding Woman?
Receiving routine vaccines immediately after giving birth and while breastfeeding is considered safe. However, it is essential to note that the yellow fever vaccine is generally not recommended for breastfeeding women unless there is unavoidable travel to specific countries and a healthcare professional determines that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks.
If you are contemplating yellow fever vaccination, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider for guidance and personalized recommendations.
Can A Vaccine Harm A Develop Baby?
Although vaccination for pregnant women is essential, one should consult their health practitioner before proceeding.
Not all vaccines are harmful to a fetus. Some vaccines, especially those containing live viruses, can cause harm to the fetus.
The above article has been proofread by our in-house health expert Dr Alok Pandey, physician (MBBS).
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