Vaccinating Pregnant Women

Doctor going over results with a pregnant patient

Vaccinating Pregnant Women

Protects Moms and Babies

Women with influenza are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized if they are pregnant.
Women with influenza are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized if they are pregnant.
Women with influenza are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized if they are pregnant.

Sixty-nine percent of reported whooping cough deaths occur in babies less than 2 months old.
Sixty-nine percent of reported whooping cough deaths occur in babies less than 2 months old.
Sixty-nine percent of reported whooping cough deaths occur in babies less than 2 months old.

Only 1 in 3 US pregnant women receive both influenza (flu) and Tdap vaccines.

Only 1 in 3 US pregnant women receive both influenza (flu) and whooping cough vaccines.

Overview

Influenza and whooping cough can be deadly, especially in a baby’s first few months of life. Vaccinating women against these diseases during each pregnancy helps protect both them and their babies. Studies show flu and whooping cough vaccines are very safe for pregnant women and developing babies.

  • CDC recommends all pregnant women receive flu vaccine at any time during pregnancy, and whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) early in their third trimester, during each pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women who get vaccinated pass antibodies to their babies, protecting babies in the first few months of life before they can get their own vaccines.
  • Recommendations from healthcare providers are one of the strongest motivators for pregnant women to get vaccinated.

Vaccines often offered, but many pregnant women and babies left unprotected

Vaccines often offered, but many pregnant women and babies left unprotected. Women who report provider offer or referral for flu and Tdap vaccine: Most (75 percent) women reported provider offer or referral for flu and Tdap vaccine and 25 percent reported that they had not been offered or received referral for flu and Tdap vaccine. Flu and Tdap vaccination coverage for pregnant women: Most women reported receiving Tdap during pregnancy (55 percent) or the flu vaccine before/during pregnancy (54 percent). Some (35 percent) women reported receiving both vaccines.

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SOURCE: CDC Internet Panel Survey 2019

Women vaccinated during pregnancy pass protective antibodies to babies.

Women vaccinated during pregnancy pass protective antibodies to babies. Graphic of a pregnant woman and the fetus. About 2 weeks after vaccination, the mother develops antibodies to influenza and whooping cough. Antibodies enter the placenta and transfer to the baby.Graphic of a woman holding a baby. The baby is born with antibodies that provide protection against influenza and whooping cough for the first few months of life.

View Text Description

SOURCE: Lancet, April 2017, https://bit.ly/2lNYsgZexternal icon. F1000Research, January 2018, https://bit.ly/2mb2ws7external icon.

Problem
Not enough women receive flu and Tdap vaccines during each pregnancy.
  • About 2 in 3 pregnant women do not receive both recommended vaccines.
  • Babies less than 6 months old are at the highest risk of all children for hospitalization from influenza.
  • 38% of pregnant women who didn’t get Tdap say they didn’t know the vaccine was needed in each pregnancy.
The Way Forward
Healthcare Providers Should:
  • Discuss the benefits of vaccination with pregnant women early and often.
  • Strongly recommend flu and Tdap vaccines to pregnant women.
  • Offer flu and Tdap vaccines to pregnant women, or provide referrals to other vaccination providers.
  • Reinforce that vaccination is the best way to protect young babies from influenza and whooping cough.
Pregnant Women Should:
  • Talk with their healthcare providers if they have any questions about flu and Tdap vaccines.
  • Get a flu vaccine anytime during pregnancy.
  • Get a Tdap vaccine during the third trimester of each pregnancy.
  • To learn more: https://bit.ly/2yoUXAGexternal icon
Everyone Should:
Flu and whooping cough vaccines protect against life-threatening diseases.
Mother holding a baby

Flu vaccination during pregnancy lowers risk of influenza hospitalization in:

  • Pregnant women by an average of 40%
  • Babies less than 6 months old by an average of 72%

Tdap vaccination during pregnancy lowers risk of:

  • Whooping cough in babies less than 2 months old by 78%
  • Hospitalization due to whooping cough in babies less than 2 months old by 91%

For More Information
1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636)
TTY: 1-888-232-6348
Web: www.cdc.gov

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30333
Publication date: October 8, 2019

Page last reviewed: October 8, 2019
Content source: Office of the Associate Director for Communication