It is important to get all the facts before taking any vaccines or undergoing any immunizations during pregnancy – while some vaccines are indicated, others are specifically not to be taken by pregnant women.
Immunizations during pregnancy may be indicated in certain cases more than others. Women who work in a health care provider location may require certain vaccines.
If travel to places where infection is more likely, or if chances of infection are raised by conditions such as diabetes, then as well vaccines may be indicated. An individual evaluation should be made in each case.
Vaccines are generally created by using weakened viruses or bacteria of a given pathogen and these are then introduced into the person’s system to stimulate the production of antibodies against the pathogen and hence create immunity. During pregnancy, such vaccines, which are created using live bacteria or virus are not to be taken.
The following immunizations during pregnancy if even mistakenly administered, may cause fetal damage:
- Yellow fever
- Varicella or chicken pox
- Rubella (German Measles)
- BCG (TB)
- The nasal spray flu vaccine
So since there are a number of vaccines that cannot be taken safely during pregnancy, women who are planning to get pregnant can choose to get certain vaccines before getting pregnancy. This can help to help protect themselves as well as the baby that they will conceive in the future.
Speaking with one’s doctor and telling them about their medical and immunization history can help clarify what vaccines are required to be taken before getting pregnant. Vaccines such as German Measles or rubella and chicken pox can be taken prior to conceiving, but at least one month should be allowed to elapse after the vaccine and before getting pregnant.
The immunizations that are indicated during pregnancy are:
- Tetanus is recommended to be taken in certain countries to prevent tetanus in neonates
- The flu shot is also recommended to be taken during pregnancy since pregnant women and new mothers are more at risk of developing the kind of complications that originate from the flu. However what kind of vaccine is deemed safe to take during pregnancy (it should have no live virus or bacteria) would have to be seen.
In general, a woman’s personal health history, her immunity levels and the nature of her work and the kind of environment she is habituated to, have to be taken into account when looking at the kind of pregnancy vaccines she should be taking before, during and after pregnancy. An individual assessment of each woman should be made taking into account all these factors.
So if a woman is planning to get pregnant, she should discuss certain things with her health care provider before she conceives. While supplements such as folic acid are routinely to be taken, others may be prescribed for specific deficiencies; similarly immunizations during pregnancy, if any are required, should also be discussed.