Pregnant? Get vaccinated.

Group of pregnant women talking

Learn about the vaccines you need before and during your pregnancy to help protect yourself and your newest family member from serious diseases.

Vaccines are an important part of planning and having a healthy pregnancy. During pregnancy you share everything with your baby. If you are planning to become pregnant, talk to your healthcare professional to be sure you are up to date on your vaccinations. If you are pregnant, CDC recommends getting two vaccines during your pregnancy:

  • Tdap to help protect against whooping cough (pertussis)
  • A flu shot to help protect against influenza (flu)

Thinking About Having a Baby?

If you are thinking about having a baby, you may need to get some vaccines before your pregnancy begins. In some cases, you may need to be vaccinated several weeks before you become pregnant. This is because it takes time for your body to build up disease protection (immunity) after vaccination. Some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as rubella, can cause serious complications for your baby. If you get rubella during your pregnancy, your baby could be born with birth defects or have other complications. If you don’t have immunity to rubella, then you need to get vaccinated before you become pregnant. So planning ahead is very important.

Taking care of yourself, working with your doctor, and getting your home ready are a few ways you can prepare for a healthy pregnancy. You should also get vaccinated against whooping cough and the flu during each pregnancy. Also available on YouTube.

Pregnant? Vaccines Will Help Protect You and Your Baby

During your pregnancy, you should get vaccines against both whooping cough and flu (if you haven’t already received the vaccine during the current flu season). Vaccines not only protect you but also provide your baby some protection for several months after birth.

If you are pregnant, you are at increased risk for serious complications from the flu. Flu is a potentially serious, contagious respiratory illness that can lead to hospitalization and even death. During pregnancy, changes in your immune, heart, and lung functions make you more likely to get very ill from the flu. Flu vaccines vary in how well they work from season to season. When flu vaccines are well matched to circulating viruses they have been shown to reduce the risk of getting sick with flu by about half. Flu vaccine also has been shown to protect against flu-related hospitalizations. When you get a flu shot while pregnant, you’ll help protect yourself from getting sick from the flu. Though not specifically examined among pregnant women, some studies suggest that flu vaccination can make illness milder among people who do still get sick.

Another benefit of getting a flu shot during your pregnancy is that you’ll pass antibodies on to your baby. Children younger than 6 months are too young to get a flu vaccine, but they are at high risk of being hospitalized from flu. If you get vaccinated during your pregnancy, your baby will be born with flu protection that can last several months. There also is some evidence that pregnant women who get the flu vaccine may be less likely to have a preterm delivery.

Whooping cough is also serious for your baby. If your baby catches whooping cough, he or she can develop serious complications or even die from the disease. About half of babies younger than one year old who get whooping cough end up in the hospital. When you get the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy, your body creates and passes antibodies to your baby before birth. These antibodies provide your baby some short-term protection from whooping cough in early life. Plus, you’ll have protection so that you are less likely to pass whooping cough on to your baby.

Talk to your doctor about other vaccines you may need before, during, and after becoming pregnant.


Timing of Maternal Vaccinations

You can get the flu shot at any time during your pregnancy. Flu activity is usually the highest between December and February, but seasonal outbreaks can happen as early as October and can last as late as May.

You should get the whooping cough vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, preferably during the earlier part of this period.

Safe Disease Protection

Millions of pregnant women have safely received flu shots for many years. CDC continues to gather data on safety of flu shots during pregnancy. There is a lot of evidence that flu vaccines can be given safely during pregnancy, though these data are limited for the first trimester. The whooping cough vaccine is very safe for you and your baby. Getting it between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy will not put you at increased risk for pregnancy complications like birth weight or preterm delivery.

Page last reviewed: August 6, 2018