Pregnancy is such a special time for the entire expecting family. It is a time of planning and preparing for the birth of a child. It is also important to begin considering the steps you can take to help keep yourself and your child protected from vaccine-preventable diseases now and throughout your baby’s life.

Before Becoming Pregnant

If you are planning to become pregnant, there are things you can do before and between pregnancies to increase your chances of having a healthy baby such as taking folic acid every day; quitting smoking, alcohol and street drugs; and making sure you are up-to-date on all recommended vaccines. Learn more.

Vaccines During Pregnancy

When you get vaccinated during pregnancy, you are not only protecting yourself against dangerous, potentially deadly infectious diseases – but you are also passing immunity directly to your unborn baby, offering some early protection from dangerous diseases. When a pregnant woman receives vaccines, her body creates protective antibodies (immunity against diseases) and passes some of them to her unborn child that will last until the little one is ready to begin his or her own vaccinations.

Your OB-GYN or midwife can tell you which vaccines are right for you throughout your pregnancy, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) all strongly recommend the influenza (flu) and Tdap (whooping cough) vaccines for pregnant women.

Preparing for Your New Baby

Pregnancy is also good time to start thinking about the vaccines your baby will need once he or she is born. Your little one will get his first vaccine before leaving the hospital.

Visit the Babies & Children section to learn more about the importance of vaccinating your child according to recommended immunization schedule, and have your questions about vaccines answered by visiting the Questions About Vaccines section.

Question about why vaccines are needed if you are breastfeeding? See the answer in the Commonly Asked Questions section below.

Commonly Asked Questions About Vaccines for Pregnant Women

Even breastfed babies need to be protected with vaccines at the recommended ages. While breast milk provides important protection from some infections like colds, ear infections and diarrhea, breast milk will not protect him or her against all diseases.

Your baby needs the long-term protection  that can only come from making sure he or she receives all his vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule, before she is exposed to diseases.

Yes. The flu shot is safe, during any trimester, for both you and your unborn baby. The flu shot has been safely administered to millions of pregnant women over many years. You can not get the flu from the flu vaccine.

It is also safe for women to get the flu vaccine while breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeeding also helps to protect babies because breast milk passes your antibodies to your baby, and these antibodies help fight off flu infection.

Following is a list of studies that show that the flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy. Click on the studies below to read the research.

Yes. Studies shown that getting the Tdap (whooping cough) vaccine while you are pregnant is very safe for you and your baby. Severe side effects are extremely rare. You cannot get whooping cough from the Tdap vaccine.

OB-GYNs and midwives who specialize in caring for pregnant women agree that the Tdap vaccine is very important to get during the third trimester of each pregnancy. Getting the vaccine during your pregnancy will not put you at increased risk for pregnancy complication, and will help your baby be born with some protection against whooping cough.

To read some of the research on Tdap vaccination of women during pregnancy, click on the links to the studies below. More research is available on the CDC website.

By getting vaccinated with the Tdap vaccine between the 27th and 36th week of pregnancy (during your 3rd trimester), your body makes protective antibodies (immunity against disease) to pass on to your baby so he or she is born with protection against whooping cough. These antibodies will help increase your baby’s immunity from whooping cough until he is able to begin his own series of whooping cough vaccinations (DTaP) at 2 months of age. Tdap vaccine also protects mothers during delivery and makes them less likely to pass whooping cough to their newborn.

A study published in Pediatrics in May 2017 looked to see how effective the Tdap vaccine was at preventing whooping cough in babies whose mothers got the vaccine while pregnant or in the hospital after giving birth. The study found that getting Tdap between the 27th through 36th weeks of pregnancy is 85% more effective at preventing whooping cough in babies younger than 2 months old.

Additionally, authors of the study, Sources of Infant Pertussis Infection in the United States, which was published in October 2015 in Pediatrics, stated that vaccinating pregnant women with Tdap should directly increase protection of infants, regardless of the source of infection.

Yes. Pregnant women can safely get the Tdap vaccine even if they recently got a tetanus-containing vaccine (Td or Tdap).

It does not matter when you got your last tetanus shot (Tdap or Td vaccine), you still need the Tdap vaccine during the 3rd trimester of each pregnancy to protect yourself and your newborn from whooping cough.

The protection (antibodies) that you pass on to your baby before birth is very important and will give him or her some early protection against flu and whooping cough. However, these antibodies will only give short-term protection. Therefore, it is also very important for your baby to get his vaccines according to the recommended childhood immunization schedule so he can start building his own protection against these dangerous diseases.