Getting Vaccinated During Pregnancy Helps  Protect You & Your Baby

Getting Vaccinated During Pregnancy Helps Protect You & Your Baby

This article was developed in paid partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Wondering if getting vaccinated during pregnancy is the right choice for you and your developing baby?

Curious whether a flu shot is safe during pregnancy, or how a Tdap vaccine helps to protect your newborn?

We get it — there’s a lot of information out there, and it can all feel pretty overwhelming.

That’s why we’re breaking it down, judgment-free, so you can make decisions about which vaccinations are right for you and your baby.

So, let’s get the full story, with a little help from our friends at CDC.

Are vaccines safe for pregnant women and their babies?

First off, let’s get the big question out of the way.

Millions of pregnant women and their babies have safely received protection from recommended vaccines. The benefits of recommended vaccines outweigh the potential risks. Recommended vaccines have been rigorously tested — and according to CDC, “All recommended vaccines are held to the highest standards of safety — meaning they are carefully studied and monitored for side effects.”

There are some known side effects of vaccines, whether you’re pregnant or not, but they’re usually mild (if you get any at all), like redness, swelling, and tenderness around the injection site. [1]

But if you want to know whether certain vaccines are safe for you during pregnancy, chat with your doctor or dig deeper using reliable sources like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) or CDC.

A healthcare provider you trust can answer your questions, address worries you might have, and help you figure out the best plan for you and your baby.

The Black maternal health crisis and vaccines

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room — the healthcare system doesn’t always treat Black moms-to-be fairly.

Studies have found that Black women may not receive vaccination recommendations or offers from their providers as often as pregnant women of other races and ethnicities, and too many Black women have experienced mistreatment during maternity care. [2,3,4,5,6,7,8]

If you’re a Black woman with questions about getting prenatal vaccines, you’re not alone. [9]

Those concerns are valid.

This is why having open conversations about vaccination during pregnancy is so important.

Getting vaccinated during pregnancy really can make a difference for you and your growing babe, helping to protect you both against a range of illnesses.

What are the benefits of getting vaccinated during pregnancy?

Prenatal vaccination isn’t just about protecting yourself (although avoiding respiratory viruses like flu is a big win), it’s also about giving your baby a head start on building their immunity with shared protection against severe illnesses.

Here’s why vaccines are a win-win for you and your baby:

  • Protection against illnesses: Getting vaccinated during pregnancy helps your body create antibodies (proteins produced by the body to fight off illnesses) that are shared with your baby, helping to protect them from illnesses like RSV in their first few months of life.
  • Helps you avoid getting seriously sick: Severe illness with a virus like the flu isn’t exactly fun at the best of times, let alone when you’re pregnant!
  • A strong start for baby: A good start to your baby’s immune system is crucial for their overall health. Vaccines are like a training program, getting their little bodies ready to fight off future illnesses.

Remember, mama, talking to a trusted healthcare provider is key.

They can answer any questions you have and make sure you are supported as you make vaccination decisions for you and your baby.

Which vaccines are recommended during pregnancy?

Let’s explore 5 vaccines the CDC typically recommends during pregnancy:

  • Whooping cough (Tdap) vaccine
  • Flu (influenza) vaccine
  • COVID-19 vaccine
  • RSV vaccine
  • Hepatitis B vaccine

Each one has specific benefits, though, so let’s break it down.

Remember, some people may need other vaccines during their pregnancy. Talk to a healthcare provider you trust about vaccines for you and your baby.

Whooping cough (Tdap) vaccine during pregnancy

Whooping cough (aka pertussis) is a nasty bug that’s very contagious and can be super dangerous for newborns — even life-threatening. [10]

It’s not exactly good for you, either, mama-to-be — it can cause uncontrollable coughing and make it hard for you to breathe.

Getting a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, also known as whooping cough) vaccine during each pregnancy (ideally between weeks 27 and 36) is the best way to protect yourself and baby against whooping cough.

Flu (influenza) vaccine during pregnancy

No one wants to get severely sick from flu, especially when you’re pregnant.
Getting severely ill from flu can make things way harder on you and your baby, affecting your immune system, heart, and lungs. [11]

Getting a flu vaccine is your best protection against severe illness from flu, and you can get a flu vaccine anytime during your pregnancy. Getting vaccinated while pregnant also can help protect a baby from flu after birth (because antibodies are passed to a developing baby during pregnancy).

CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions. September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October.

👉 Get the full story: How to Protect You and Your Baby From Flu this Fall and Winter

COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy

It’s true: COVID-19 is still a thing.

Alongside painful symptoms like coughs and respiratory problems, studies have shown that getting COVID-19 while pregnant can increase your risk of complications that can affect your pregnancy. [12]

And since babies can’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine until they’re 6 months old, getting vaccinated during your pregnancy is their best chance of getting protected.

Like the other prenatal vaccines, it can help keep you and baby protected!

CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for everyone aged 6 months and older. If you are pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccine. You can get your COVID-19 vaccination at any point in your pregnancy.

➡️ Dig deeper: What We Know About Getting Covid While Pregnant

RSV vaccine during pregnancy

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) can be rough, and is especially dangerous for newborns. [13]

If you’re between 32 and 36 weeks pregnant during September through January, CDC recommends getting an RSV vaccine.

If you don’t get your RSV vaccine during pregnancy, CDC recommends your baby get an RSV immunization (called nirsevimab) for protection during their first RSV season (October – March) if they’re 8 months or younger.

👶 Find out more: When to Take a Baby with RSV to the Hospital

Hepatitis B vaccine during pregnancy

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) — it’s spread through bodily fluids, like blood, semen, and vaginal discharge, so it can easily pass from you to your baby. [14]

Hepatitis B doesn’t always have symptoms, but it can lead to conditions that can affect you and your baby’s liver function. [15, 16]

If you’re pregnant, talk to your healthcare professional about getting tested for hepatitis B and whether or not you should get vaccinated. CDC recommends hepatitis B vaccination for almost everyone and you can get your vaccination at a pre-pregnancy visit or during a pregnancy visit.

When should I get vaccinated during pregnancy?

If you haven’t gotten your recommended vaccines yet, there’s no time like the present to start these conversations with your healthcare provider!

But if you’re in your TTC (Trying to Conceive) phase or you’ve just got your BFP (Big Fat Positive — congrats, mama!), here’s a breakdown of when to get your vaccines during pregnancy:

  • Tdap (whooping cough) vaccine: Ideally, aim for between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, with the earlier part of that window being best.
  • Flu vaccine: You can get your flu vaccine at any point during pregnancy. September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against flu. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October.
  • RSV vaccine: If you’re 32 through 36 weeks pregnant during September through January, CDC recommends one dose of maternal RSV vaccine to help protect your baby.
  • COVID-19 vaccine: You can get your updated COVID-19 vaccination at any point during pregnancy.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine: CDC recommends hepatitis B vaccination for almost everyone and you can get your vaccination before or during your pregnancy.

Every pregnancy is unique, so have a conversation with your trusted healthcare provider about the specific timing that’s right for you and your babe.

Pregnancy comes with a million questions, and vaccines are often a big one.
It’s normal to have questions — after all, you want what’s best for yourself and your babe.

Talk to your doctor, your mom, your partner, your aunties, your sisters, or your BFF on Peanut — there’s a whole community right here to support you.

Every baby deserves a strong start, and vaccines can make a big difference.

It’s about giving them extra protection as they grow — while protecting yourself, too.


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