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Ask the experts: Vaccination

I’m afraid receiving vaccinations (like the flu shot) while pregnant will harm my unborn baby. Is it true?  It isn’t. Expectant mothers should know that protecting themselves against certain vaccine-preventable diseases is actually a safe and important step toward having a happy, healthy baby. If you become infected with influenza, the virus that causes “the...

vaccinewebI’m afraid receiving vaccinations (like the flu shot) while pregnant will harm my unborn baby. Is it true? 
It isn’t. Expectant mothers should know that protecting themselves against certain vaccine-preventable diseases is actually a safe and important step toward having a happy, healthy baby. If you become infected with influenza, the virus that causes “the flu”, during pregnancy you have a greater chance of developing serious health problems, including premature delivery. On the other hand, pregnant women who are vaccinated will transfer antibodies against the flu to their babies during pregnancy and provide protection against flu in the first six months of life before the baby can be vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends women take preventive measures and get vaccinated before and during pregnancy. There are other important and safe vaccines for pregnant women as well. These vaccines, like Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis), protect the mother and may protect her baby. Newborn infants who get infected with pertussis have the highest risk of death from the disease. Thus, the CDC recommends Tdap vaccination for all pregnant women during the third trimester of pregnancy to protect the baby in those first most vulnerable months of life. The CDC also recommends all adults who will be around your baby have a Tdap booster, creating a cocoon of safety for your newborn. For more information on the vaccines recommended for adults, including pregnant women, visit the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) Campaign for Adult Immunization at adultimmunization.org.
—Laura Riley, MD, director of Obstetrics and Gynecology Infectious Disease at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of You and Your baby Pregnancy: The Ultimate Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide