During pregnancy, you are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza and other infections. One of the best ways to protect the health of you and your baby is to get vaccinated. Vaccinations will also protect your baby after birth, until they can be safely vaccinated.
Expecting mothers who get the flu are at a greater risk of becoming seriously ill and are more likely to go into premature labor and delivery. After birth, babies who get influenza can develop other illnesses, such as pneumonia. The flu vaccine protects against seasonal influenza strains. Babies born to vaccinated mothers are one-third less likely to get sick with influenza than babies of unvaccinated mothers.
The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). Whooping cough is a serious disease that can make it difficult for babies to breathe. Deaths due to whooping cough have also increased over the past several years. From 2014 to 2016, 61 whooping cough infections in young infants (under 1 year of age), including five hospitalizations, were reported in New York City. Most of the mothers of the infected infants did not get the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy.
In addition to the flu and Tdap vaccines, you should be up-to-date on other routine vaccinations before becoming pregnant, such as MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and varicella (chickenpox). For more information, you can read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) adult immunization schedule (PDF), or ask your primary health care provider.
Pregnant women can get the flu vaccine during any trimester and should get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available. Since the flu vaccine is updated annually, it’s important to get vaccinated every year, especially if you are pregnant.
Pregnant women should get the Tdap vaccine in the third trimester of every pregnancy, preferably at 27-to-36 weeks gestation. Getting vaccinated in the third trimester allows your body to create and pass on disease-fighting antibodies to your baby, giving them short-term protection until they can be safely vaccinated at 2 months of age.
If you are pregnant, ask your doctor, obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN), nurse or midwife about getting the flu and Tdap vaccines. If you are 18 years of age or older, you can also get both vaccines without a prescription at many city pharmacies. For information on where to get the flu and Tdap vaccines, you can check the NYC Health Map, call 311, or ask your primary health care provider. Both vaccines are also available at no-to-low cost at NYC’s walk-in immunization clinic in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
The flu and Tdap vaccines are extremely safe and effective. These vaccines do not contain live viruses, which means that they cannot make you or your baby sick. Most side effects from vaccinations are mild and usually don’t last longer than two days. Severe side effects are very rare. The most common side effects are: