Vaccine Safety for Moms-To-Be
Pregnant women may safely receive inactivated vaccines (Tdap and flu), mRNA (Moderna and Pfizer), and viral vector vaccines (J&J).
Vaccines help protect pregnant people and babies against serious diseases
Pregnant people share everything with their babies. That means when a pregnant person gets vaccines, she isn’t just protecting herself— they are giving the baby some early protection too.
CDC has recommendations for the vaccines needed before, during, and after pregnancy. Currently, CDC routinely recommends Tdap and flu shots during pregnancy.
- Get the Tdap vaccine (to help protect against whooping cough), during pregnancy.
- The flu shot can be given before or during pregnancy, depending on whether or not it is flu season during a pregnancy.
- It is safe for pregnant people to receive vaccines right after giving birth, even while breastfeeding.
- Some vaccines, such as the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, should be given a month or more before pregnancy if a pregnant person didn’t get the vaccine as a child.
Live virus vaccines, such as the MMR and chickenpox, should not be given to pregnant people, but should be given to them before or after pregnancy, if indicated. Talk to your doctor about the MMR, Tdap, and flu vaccines before getting vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for pregnant people. The authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant people are the mRNA Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which contain no live virus, and the J&J/Janssen viral vector vaccine, meaning it uses a modified version of a different virus (the vector) to deliver important instructions to our cells. If you have any questions about these vaccines, talk to your doctor.
Vaccine safety before, during, and after pregnancy
It’s important to know that the Tdap and flu vaccines are safe for a pregnant person and their baby. Likewise, the limited information collected for COVID-19 vaccines given to pregnant people have not identified any safety concerns for them or their babies.
- The Tdap and flu vaccines are inactivated vaccines, which means they are made by inactivating or killing the germ during the process of making the vaccine.
- Studies done on the Tdap vaccine have concluded that it is safe and effective for pregnant people and babies.
- Similarly, results from multiple studies on the flu shot continue to support the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine during pregnancy.
- There is limited information available about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines for people who are pregnant; however, based on how these vaccines work in the body, experts believe they are unlikely to pose risk for pregnant people.
It is important to get MMR before becoming pregnant to reduce the risk of becoming infected with rubella which can pass on to the unborn child, causing Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS). CRS can cause severe birth defects and neurodevelopmental problems. Even though MMR is a safe and effective vaccine, there is a theoretical risk to the baby. This is because it is a live vaccine, meaning it contains a weakened version of the living viruses.
- Live vaccines are generally not recommended during pregnancy.
- If a pregnant person did not get MMR as a child, she should get the vaccine before pregnancy.
All vaccines are held to the highest standards of safety—meaning they are carefully studied and monitored for side effects. Vaccines are like any medicine, which means they can have some side effects. However, most people who get vaccinated have no side effects or only mild side effects. CDC continually monitors vaccine safety, and the most common side effects seen are mild and go away quickly on their own (redness, swelling, and tenderness at the site where the shot was given. Other possible side effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccine are tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea.).
For more studies, the FDA also has a pregnancy exposure registry, which is a study that collects health information from pregnant persons who take medicines or vaccines when they are pregnant.