There are two vaccines that should be specifically administered during pregnancy. The first is the flu (influenza) vaccine, and the second is the Tdap. These vaccinations are designed to protect both you and your baby.
You will be offered a Tdap vaccination between 30 and 36 weeks gestation. Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is used to prevent three infections: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Pertussis (also called whooping cough) is the most concerning of those three, and is a highly contagious disease that causes severe coughing, which in newborns (birth to 1 month) can be a life-threatening illness. Multiple recent outbreaks have demonstrated that infants who are younger than 3 months are at a very high risk of severe infection.
All pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccine during their last trimester. The Tdap vaccine is an effective and safe way to protect you and your baby from serious illness and complications of pertussis. Experts recommend that Tdap be given to you during your pregnancy to maximize the protection of your newborn. The newborn protection occurs because the protective antibodies you make after being vaccinated are transferred to the fetus and protect your newborn until he or she begins to receive the vaccines against pertussis (at 2 months of age). For women not previously vaccinated with Tdap during pregnancy, it will be offered at the hospital following delivery. The Tdap vaccine can safely be given to breastfeeding mothers.
Getting your Tdap shot is the most important step in protecting yourself and your baby against pertussis. It is also important to make sure all family members and caregivers are up to date with their vaccines and, if necessary, that they receive the Tdap vaccination at least 2 weeks before having contact with your baby. Our office does not give the immunization to family members, but can be obtained at the County Health Department.
The flu is a contagious disease and both the seasonal flu (influenza) and the Novel H1N1 flu (formerly known as “Swine Flu”) are serious infections that can be dangerous, sometimes causing hospitalization and even death. Pregnant women are more likely to get sick with the flu than others and have more serious complications such as pneumonia and preterm labor. Our main goal is to keep you and your baby health, so it is important to take steps to protect yourself from the flu.
The first and most important step for flu prevention is getting a flu vaccine. Vaccination during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to 6 months old) from influenza-related illness and hospitalizations. Influenza vaccines are safe and have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. The vaccine can be given to pregnant women in any trimester, but pregnant women should get a flu shot; NOT the live attenuated vaccine (nasal spray). Postpartum women, even if they are breastfeeding, can receive either type of vaccine. For your convenience, we offer the flu shot to our patients beginning in about October of each year, but you may choose to receive it at a pharmacy or other flu shot clinic.