Protect yourself and your soon-to-come little one, mom. For the first time, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has released a one-page immunization guidelines for pregnant women.
The recommended vaccines can protect the mother from serious illness while she’s pregnant or “provide fetal and neonatal benefit through passive transfer of protective antibodies across the placenta,” says ACOG. Meaning, your baby will get the protection through you, mom.
And, rest assured, these vaccines are safe. “There is no evidence of adverse fetal effects from vaccinating pregnant women with inactivated virus, bacterial vaccines, or toxoids, and a growing body of data demonstrate the safety of such use,” says the ACOG.
Also included in the guidelines are vaccines that are to be given on a case-to-case basis as well as vaccines pregnant women should avoid as they contain the live, weakened form of the viruses namely the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines. “We don't want to take even a chance that those vaccines could create disease in the mother and potentially infect the baby,” Dr. Laura Riley, a co-author of the guidelines and chair of the ACOG immunization work group, told NPR.
For quick reference, here is a table of the immunization guidelines for pregnant women provided by ACOG. We've also listed the vaccines in detail below with information from the ACOG guide. Remember, for any concerns regarding your pregnancy including the vaccines you should get, always consult with your doctor.
Safe vaccines for pregnant women
Vaccines are very important in protecting the health of you and your unborn baby during pregnancy, especially because illnesses that a woman gets infected with can get passed on to her fetus. Here is a list of the vaccinations you need to get and at what point in your pregnancy you need to get them.
Vaccines recommended for all pregnant women
- Flu shot
Given during any trimester
“Influenza vaccination for pregnant women is especially important because pregnant women who contract influenza are at greater risk of maternal morbidity and mortality,” says ACOG. The flu can harm the baby too as getting the disease during pregnancy increase the likelihood of birth defects, miscarriage, preterm birth, and low birth weight. Getting the flu shot during pregnancy protects the infant from the flu during his first 6 months of life. Children 6 months old and older should receive the flu vaccine every year.
“Women who are or will be pregnant during influenza season should receive an annual influenza vaccine. Any of the licensed, recommended, age-appropriate inactivated influenza vaccines can safely be given during any trimester,” advice ACOG.
- Tetanus, Diptheria, and Pertussis (Tdap)
Given between 27-36 weeks gestation
“All pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy, as early in the 27–36-weeks-of-gestation window as possible,” says the recommendations. This three-in-one shot protects mother and child from several serious conditions: tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough.
Maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) is a bacterial disease that is fatal to fetuses and newborns. A pregnant woman who contracts the disease can transfer the infection to her unborn baby, causing fetal death. Through DOH's immunization program, just this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that Philippines has successfully eliminated MNT making births safer for newborns all over the country.
Diphtheria and pertussis (or whooping cough) are serious diseases when contracted by children. Infants are also given their own vaccines for these but not until they’re a few weeks old. Vaccinating their mothers provides them the protection until then.
Vaccines to talk to your doctor about (case-to-case basis)
These vaccines should only be given during pregnancy if the mother has an increased risk for contracting the mentioned diseases and after a consultation with a doctor where it has been decided that the benefits outweigh the potential risks, according to ACOG.
- Pneumococcal vaccines - recommended for women who have heart, lung, and sickle cell disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses
- Meningococcal vaccine - recommended for women with HIV infection, who are exposed to a meningococcal disease outbreak, travelling to endemic areas, or whose work entails exposure to the disease
- Hepatitis A vaccine - recommended for women including those with chronic liver disease, clotting-factor disorders, and using injection and noninjection drugs, among others
- Hepatitis B vaccine - recommended for women who have HIV infection or chronic liver disease, more than one sex partner in the last 6 months, and use injection drugs among others
Vaccines pregnant women should avoid
As mentioned, these vaccines contain the live, weakened forms of their viruses. These, however, are safe to give to the mother immediately after she gives birth including to moms planning to breastfeed their newborns.
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
ACOG also includes the human pappilomavirus (HPV) vaccine in the list of vaccines pregnant women should avoid, but it is recommended postpartum if the mother has not been previously vaccinated.
Always consult with your doctor for the vaccines you should get or any other concerns you have regarding your pregnancy. Stay healthy, mom.
Find the most recent immunization schedule for Filipino children here and the updated vaccination guidelines for Filipino adults (including women planning to get pregnant) here.