Vaccines and Pregnancy: Things to Know

1. You aren’t just protecting yourself—vaccines during pregnancy give your baby some early protection too!

Did you know a baby can get some disease protection from their mom during pregnancy? Getting fluTdap (tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and COVID-19 vaccines while you’re pregnant helps your body create protective antibodies  (proteins produced by the body to fight off diseases), and you can pass on those antibodies to your baby. These antibodies can help protect your baby from those diseases during the first few months of life.

father and mother hold young child touching pregnant belly for vaccine protection
2. Flu, Tdap, RSV, and COVID-19 vaccination while pregnant can help keep you and your little one safe.

CDC and a panel of experts who make vaccine recommendations have concluded that flu, Tdap, RSV, and COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant people and their babies. These experts carefully reviewed the available safety data before recommending any vaccines during pregnancy.

Vaccines, like medicine, can have side effects. But most people who get vaccinated have mild or no side effects. CDC continually monitors vaccine safety, and the most common side effects of these vaccines include fever, tiredness, and body aches, as well as redness, swelling, and tenderness at the site where the shot was given.

mother with infant
3. The Tdap vaccine helps protect against whooping cough, which can be really dangerous for your baby.

You’ll need a Tdap vaccine during your pregnancy, with optimal timing between the 27th through 36th week of each pregnancy, preferably during the earlier part of this time period. Tdap helps protect against whooping cough (pertussis), which can be life-threatening for newborns.

About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get whooping cough need treatment in the hospital. The younger a baby is when they get whooping cough, the more likely the baby will need to be treated in a hospital. While some babies cough a lot, other babies with whooping cough don’t cough at all. Instead, it can cause them to stop breathing and turn blue. Siblings, parents, or caregivers who don’t know they have whooping cough can infect babies since the disease often causes only mild symptoms in older children and adults.

mother with new born for tdap vaccine to protect against whooping cough
4. Getting a flu vaccine while pregnant can help protect you and your baby against flu.

Changes in your immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to get seriously ill from flu. Pregnancy increases the risk of being hospitalized with the flu and having flu-related complications if you get sick with the flu. Flu may also be dangerous for your pregnancy. Fever during pregnancy, for any reason, has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Additionally, babies are more likely to get very sick from flu. Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. When you get a flu vaccine during pregnancy, you pass antibodies along to your baby that can help protect them from flu in the first few months after they’re born, when they are too young to be vaccinated themselves.

Get a flu shot if you are pregnant during flu season—it’s the best way to protect yourself and your baby from flu. Flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy and can be given during any trimester.

doctor with pregnant woman
5. Getting an RSV vaccine during your pregnancy or getting your baby an RSV immunization can help protect your baby

RSV is a common cause of severe respiratory illness in infants. Babies infected with RSV can have difficulty breathing and eating and sometimes may need respiratory support or hydration in the hospital. There are two ways to protect your baby from getting very sick with RSV. You can choose to get RSV vaccine during weeks 32 through 36 of your pregnancy during September to January, or your baby aged 8 months or younger can get RSV immunization during their first RSV season.

Doctor discusses the RSV vaccine with pregnant woman to protect mom and baby
6. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant can help protect you and your baby from getting very sick from COVID-19.

If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant, you are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 than people who are not pregnant. Additionally, if you have COVID-19 during pregnancy, you are more likely to have complications that can affect your pregnancy and developing baby.

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. Evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccination before and during pregnancy is safe and effective and suggests that the benefits of vaccination outweigh any known or potential risks. New data show that vaccination during pregnancy can help protect babies younger than 6 months old, when they are too young to be vaccinated themselves, from hospitalization due to COVID-19.

Everyone, including people who are pregnant, should stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, including getting an updated vaccine when it’s time to get one.

doctor discusses COVID-19 vaccine with pregnant woman to avoid getting very sick
7. Timing of vaccinations is everything!

You know all about timing. Week after week, you are tracking your baby’s growth and development and counting down the days until you meet your little one! When it comes to vaccines, timing is also important.

  • Flu seasons vary in their timing from season to season.  For most people, CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine in September or October to ensure that they are protected before flu activity begins to increase. Early vaccination during July and August also can be considered for people who are in the third trimester of pregnancy during those months.
  • Instead of during a specific time of year, CDC recommends you get your Tdap vaccine in each pregnancy, ideally between the 27th and 36th week. Getting Tdap during this period preferably during the earlier part, helps pass the greatest amount of protective antibodies to your baby before birth. This will help protect your baby during their first few months of life when they are most vulnerable to serious disease and complications.
  • You can get your RSV vaccine during weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy during September to January, or your baby aged 8 months or younger can get RSV immunization during their first RSV season.
  • You can get your updated COVID-19 vaccine at any point in pregnancy.
pregnant woman marking calendar for timing vaccinations
8. Anyone who is around your baby needs vaccines too.

Newborns do not yet have fully developed immune systems, making them particularly vulnerable to infections. Older kids and adults can spread viruses to babies, even if they don’t feel very sick. Because of this, anyone who is around babies should be up to date on all recommended vaccines. This includes parents, siblings, and any other caregivers, like grandparents, or babysitters. Anyone who needs vaccines should get them at least two weeks before meeting the baby because it takes about two weeks to develop antibodies after vaccination.

grandparent with baby for up to date routine vaccines
9. If you get pregnant again, you’ll need a Tdap vaccine with each pregnancy.

The amount of antibodies you have in your body after getting vaccinated decreases over time. When you get a vaccine during one pregnancy, your antibody levels may not stay high enough to provide enough protection during future pregnancies, even if your babies are close in age. So, make sure you give baby number 2 (and 3 and 4…) the greatest amount of protective antibodies and the best disease protection possible by getting your Tdap vaccine each time you are pregnant. You should also get a flu shot every flu season, and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines.

pregnant woman with young child for multiple children vaccine protection