Pregnancy and Vaccinations
While no conclusive evidence exists that vaccines are harmful for developing fetuses, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that pregnant women should only receive immunizations if:
- The vaccine is not deemed harmful to pregnant women and their babies.
- Exposure to disease risk for mother and baby is high.
- Resulting infection from disease would be high risk for mother or baby.
The United States only recommends three types of vaccines for use during pregnancy: tetanus, diphtheria, and influenza. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), women past their second trimester of pregnancy are at increased risk for complications and even hospitalization from influenza. Hence, the CDC recommends that women beyond the fourteenth week of pregnancy get an influenza vaccine during flu season.
Other types of vaccines, such as those against hepatitis A or B, or the pneumococcal immunization, should be given to you only if you're at high risk of catching these diseases. Your doctor will carefully balance the risk of your becoming infected versus the benefit of immunization, and select a vaccine that poses the least possible risk of complications.
No live virus vaccines should be administered to you if you're pregnant unless the likelihood of catching a disease is very probable, and the effects of the disease are a greater threat to you and your unborn baby than the risks associated with the live virus vaccine. If you had a live virus vaccine before you learned you were pregnant, consult your physician so he can monitor you and your baby accordingly.
Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccines are all potentially harmful to pregnant women and their developing babies. It's important to make sure all your immunizations are up to date before you become pregnant. Speak with your doctor about your immunization needs as soon as you begin thinking about getting pregnant, or if you're sexually active and might become pregnant inadvertently.
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