About Vaccinations

Vaccines strengthen people’s immune systems so that their bodies can fight off serious infectious diseases. Vaccines also benefit society by preventing the spread of communicable diseases.

A number of vaccines, especially live-virus vaccines, should not be give to pregnant women because they may be harmful to the baby. (A live-virus vaccine is made using the live strains of a virus.) Some vaccines can be given to the mother in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, while others should only be administered either at least three months before or immediately after the baby is born.

The following vaccines are considered safe to give to women who may be at risk of infection:

  • Hepatitis B Pregnant women who are at high risk for this disease and have tested negative for the virus can receive this vaccine. It is used to protect the mother and baby against infection both before and after delivery.
  • InfluenzaThis vaccine can prevent serious illness in the mother during pregnancy, but should be received after the mother has been pregnant for more than 14 weeks. If you have a serious medical condition that can lead to flu-related complications, you can receive the vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy.
  • Tetanus/DiphtheriaThis combination of vaccines are routinely recommended for pregnant women, both those who have never been immunized and those who have not received a booster in 10 years.

The following vaccines can potentially be transmitted to the unborn child and may result in miscarriage, premature birth or birth defects.

  • Hepatitis A The safety of this vaccine hasn’t been determined and it should be avoided during pregnancy. Women at high risk for exposure to this virus should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctors.
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)Women should wait at least three months to become pregnant after receiving these live-virus vaccines. If the initial rubella test shows that you are rubella nonimmune, then you will be given the vaccine after delivery.
  • VaricellaThis vaccine, used to prevent chicken pox, should be given at least one month before pregnancy.
  • PneumococcalBecause the safety of this vaccine is unknown, it should be avoided in pregnancy except for women who are at high risk or have a chronic illness.
  • Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) & Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV)Neither the live-virus (OPV) nor the inactivated-virus (IPV) version of this vaccine is recommended for pregnant women. Also, the risk of getting polio in the United States is very low.

Side effects vary from none to those that can occur up to three weeks after vaccination. If you experience any severe side effects, be sure to tell your physician.

  • Hepatitis A Soreness and redness at injection site, headache, fatigue, severe allergic reaction in very rare cases
  • Hepatitis BSoreness at injection site, fever
  • InfluenzaRedness and swelling at injection site that can last up to two days, fever
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria—Low-grade fever, soreness and swelling at injection site
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)Non-contagious rash, swelling of neck glands and cheeks, pain and stiffness of joints one to two weeks after vaccination
  • VaricellaFever, soreness or redness at injection site, rash or small bumps up to three weeks after vaccination
  • PneumococcalFever, soreness at injection site
  • Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)None
  • Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV)Redness, discomfort at injection site.