Should I get a vaccine if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

vaccines during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Clinical trials of the new Covid-19 vaccine aren’t expected to occur until January 2021 for pregnant and lactating moms. The new vaccines have not yet been tested on pregnant or breastfeeding women, nor have they been tested on women who are trying to conceive. According to the New York Times on December 11, 2021, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and other organizations have been fervently calling on the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to allow pregnant and lactating women access to the Covid-19 vaccine. The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has also not endorsed the vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers but they are expected to meet before the end of the year to make further recommendations. It is unfortunate that the coronavirus vaccine hasn’t been studied on pregnant and lactating women yet, however many scientists agree that the vaccine benefits will outweigh any potential risks, especially for pregnant or nursing healthcare workers which account for 330,000 women in the US. Please speak to your doctor or healthcare worker about your situation.

History shows that since the 1960’s, pregnant women have been encouraged to get vaccinated against the flu and other diseases. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, speak with your doctor to determine which vaccines you may need. There are many factors your healthcare provider will need to discuss with you: your age, your lifestyle, pre-existing medical conditions, how often you travel and previous vaccinations you’ve received. According to the CDC, pregnant women are urged to get two vaccines during EVERY pregnancy, the inactivated flu vaccine via injection and the Tdap vaccine.

What’s the importance of the flu vaccine during pregnancy? Protect your precious baby and yourself, even after birth by getting the flu shot during pregnancy! It’s especially important to get it if you are pregnant during flu season. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated no later than October, before the flu season really kicks in. If you wait until after October, that is OK as it’s still more beneficial than not receiving the vaccine at all. Be sure not NOT receive the live flu vaccination (nasal flu vaccine) while pregnant. Get the injected version of the flu shot. Live vaccines may be harmful to your baby.

What’s the importance of the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy? Protect baby and yourself from pertussis, which is also known as whooping cough. The CDC recommends the Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed since your last Tdap, get it again! It’s best to receive the Tdap between 27-36 weeks of pregnancy. If you didn’t receive it during pregnancy, be sure to get the vaccine immediately after giving birth.

Which vaccines shouldn’t I get during pregnancy? It’s best to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider, however the CDC recommends against getting the following vaccines during pregnancy: human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, varicella (chicken pox) vaccine, live influenza vaccine (nasal flu vaccine, as mentioned above it’s best to get the injected flu vaccine when pregnant) and the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Can I get vaccines while breastfeeding? It is perfectly safe to receive routine vaccines post-birth, even if you are nursing. The majority of live viruses in vaccines have shown to not transfer to human breast milk. There is even evidence of breastfed babies tend to respond better to immunizations than formula fed babies. The CDC, however, recommends against getting the yellow fever vaccine if you are breastfeeding. If you can’t postpone travel to a high risk country for the yellow fever virus (YFV), speak to your doctor before you travel. According to the WHO, countries with high cases and transmission levels of yellow fever include Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo and Uganda. As always, please speak with your prenatal healthcare provider about vaccines and traveling during pregnancy and postpartum. You can also check the CDC or WHO websites for updates on traveling to high risk countries.