If you’re pregnant, you may have started thinking about your health differently. There are good reasons for that, of course. You’re not only taking care of your own health as your body changes — you’re also looking after a new life.
Getting vaccinated against harmful diseases helps protect you and your baby. You both develop immunity, which protects you and your baby from future infections and makes it easier to fight off illness.
Research shows vaccines protect you before and after you give birth. Many studies confirm your baby is also protected after birth.
During pregnancy, you can get vaccinations for several conditions, such as:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Whooping cough (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
All are typically given as shots.
Being pregnant increases your risk of getting COVID-19. And the disease may have more serious side effects if you’re pregnant when you get infected. It’s also more likely to be fatal.
Pregnant women who have COVID-19 are more likely to:*
- Be admitted to an intensive care unit
- Need a tube to help them breathe
- Have a preterm birth
If you get COVID-19, your baby is more likely to need intensive care if they’re born early. Complications like stillbirth are also more common.
The COVID-19 vaccine helps protect you and your baby against these complications. Kaiser Permanente recommends all people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant get the vaccine. Visit kp.org/covid to learn more or to schedule an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
It’s harder for your body to fight off infections during pregnancy, so the flu is more likely to make you seriously ill. Risks include severe breathing problems that could lead to hospitalization. Other flu symptoms like a high fever could affect your developing baby and increase the chance of preterm birth and other complications.
That’s why getting your annual flu shot is especially important while you’re pregnant.
After you get the flu shot, your body makes antibodies that pass to your developing baby. Infants have a higher risk of getting seriously ill from the flu but can’t get a flu shot until they’re 6 months old. So vaccination during pregnancy is the best way to protect your baby from the flu.
The flu shot is also safe. There’s no increased risk of illness from getting the flu shot during pregnancy. You may have the mild side effects that sometimes happen after a flu shot, like soreness around the injection site, muscle aches, fatigue, or nausea. Learn more about how to stay healthy during flu season.
The Tdap vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect you and your baby against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as "whooping cough"). These 3 diseases can be dangerous to you and your baby.
Tetanus causes symptoms like a stiff neck, back, or shoulders. As the infection gets worse, more serious symptoms like seizures may occur. Tetanus can enter the body through cuts, wounds, or splinters. Diphtheria and pertussis both cause breathing problems and can be life-threatening for newborns.
Since babies can’t get the Tdap vaccine until they’re 2 months old, they’re more vulnerable during this time. Getting the vaccine in your third trimester will give your baby the most protection, since the antibodies will pass to them. To help protect newborns when they’re most vulnerable to serious illness and complications from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, you should get the Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy.
Talking with your clinician
Be sure to know your vaccination history before becoming pregnant. Talk with your clinician about which vaccines you already have and which you may need. At your first visit, you’ll have blood tests to find out which diseases you’re protected from.
Vaccines after pregnancy
Some vaccines aren’t recommended until after pregnancy. It’s best to wait to get vaccinations for rubella, measles, and chickenpox until after you’ve given birth. In the meantime, try to avoid exposure to these diseases.