There are several vaccines that are safe and important to receive either before or during pregnancy.
TDAP Vaccine During Pregnancy
The TDAP vaccine provides combined protection against the diseases of tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis. Both the CDC and ACOG, which is the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, consider the vaccine to be safe for mothers during pregnancy.
Infants under 2 months are too young to receive a vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis. Getting a vaccine would allow the baby to produce their own antibodies. When the pregnant person gets the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, it allows some of the antibodies produced by the mother to transfer to the baby during pregnancy which protects babies after birth until they are able to receive their own vaccine.
Infants can benefit from minimized risk through a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy. Getting a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy between 27 through 36 weeks lowers the risk of whooping cough in babies younger than 2 months old by 78%. (1, 2).
Covid Vaccine During Pregnancy
Over the last two years, we have seen that pregnant persons are at much greater risk of hospitalization and death if they are unvaccinated and contract Covid-19. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recommend that all pregnant persons be vaccinated against COVID-19 (3). If you have not been vaccinated before becoming pregnant, it is advised that you do so during your pregnancy. You can also choose to become vaccinated before you become pregnant.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are preferred over the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for all people who are eligible to receive a vaccine. It is safe for patients to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines, such as TDAP vaccine and the flu vaccine. If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised, you should receive an additional dose of the vaccine, so, for the mRNA vaccines, immunocompromised individuals need a 3-dose primary series.
The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are not live virus vaccines. The vaccines do not enter the nucleus and do not alter human DNA. Thus, mRNA vaccines cannot cause any genetic changes (3,4).
Flu Vaccine During Pregnancy
In the United States, the influenza season usually lasts from October to May. If you are pregnant, do your best to obtain the flu shot before the end of October, or as soon as it is made available to you. You do not have to get this with your Ob-Gyn. Your primary care doctor can also administer this vaccine for you.
The flu can be a serious illness and if it happens during or after pregnancy, there is a higher chance of the pregnant person getting pneumonia, being hospitalized, and having an ICU admission. There is also a risk of poor neonatal outcomes. The CDC and ACOG recommend that all adults receive an annual influenza vaccine and that women who plan to be pregnant during influenza season receive an inactivated influenza vaccine as soon as it is available (5).
Pregnancy Vaccines: Take Home Points
The TDAP, Covid, and Flu vaccines are all safe to receive during pregnancy. The TDAP vaccine is mainly for the protection of your unborn child, while the Covid vaccine and Flu vaccine can help to prevent hospitalization and death in pregnant persons. Ask your doctor about these vaccines so you can ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.