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Safety & Prevention

Immunizations During Pregnancy

At their doctor’s recommendation, pregnant women often try to limit the number of medicines they’re taking, stop drinking alcohol, and stop smoking to protect the baby developing in their wombs. But what about immunizations? If a pregnant women needs to be immunized, is it safe for her to do so?

Keep in mind that some infections can be more severe during pregnancy and can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery or cause birth defects. Fortunately, many high-risk infections can be prevented if women get the recommended immunizations before trying to become pregnant.

Once a woman is pregnant, a key factor in immunizing her is whether the immunization is made with live or inactivated (killed) infectious agents. Because of the possible risk of transmitting the infection to the fetus, pregnant women should not be immunized with live vaccines (e.g., MMR and chickenpox). As a general guideline, you should avoid becoming pregnant for 28 days after being given either the MMR or chickenpox vaccine.

Other immunizations, however, are especially important for pregnant women to consider. For example, pregnant women have a greater risk of problems from the flu. Because the presently available influenza shot (but not the influenza nasal spray) is made from an inactivated virus, the vaccine itself is safe for pregnant women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the influenza vaccine for pregnant women in any trimester of pregnancy during the flu season. Additionally, a dose of Tdap vaccine is recommended to be given to all pregnant women between 27 and 36 weeks gestation with each pregnancy regardless of the time since she last received a dose of Td or Tdap vaccine. By the way, all vaccines can be given safely to breastfeeding mothers.

For more information:

Guidelines for Vaccinating Pregnant Women (CDC) 

Last Updated
Adapted from Immunizations and Infectious Diseases: An Informed Parent's Guide (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics) and updated 2012
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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