If you’re planning a pregnancy, make sure that you are up-to-date on all of your vaccinations. Vaccinations contain medicine that makes you immune to certain diseases. If you’re immune, you can’t get the disease. You can get vaccinations to prevent certain infections, like chickenpox and rubella (also called German measles), that can harm you and your baby during pregnancy.
Why do adults need vaccinations?
You probably got vaccinations as a child, but they don’t all protect you your whole life. Over time, some vaccinations stop working. So you may need what’s called a booster shot as an adult. And there may be new vaccinations that weren’t available when you were young.
What vaccinations do you need before pregnancy?
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, get a preconception checkup. This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy to help make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant. At your checkup, ask your provider if you need any vaccinations and how long to wait after getting them to try to get pregnant.
Your provider may recommend these vaccinations before you get pregnant:
- Flu (also called influenza). Get the flu vaccine once a year before flu season (October through May). There are many different flu viruses, and they’re always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against three or four flu viruses that are likely to make people sick during the upcoming flu season. If you get the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications, such as pneumonia.
- HPV (stands for human papillomavirus). This vaccine protects against the infection that causes genital warts and cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also called CDC) recommends that women up to age 26 get the HPV vaccine. You can’t get the HPV vaccine during pregnancy, so if you need it, get it before you get pregnant.
- MMR (stands for measles, mumps and rubella). This vaccine protects you against the measles, mumps and rubella. Wait 4 weeks after you get an MMR vaccination before you get pregnant.
- Varicella (also called chickenpox). Chickenpox is an infection that causes itchy skin, rash and fever. It’s easily spread and can cause birth defects if you get it during pregnancy. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and you never had the chickenpox or the vaccine, tell your provider. Wait 1 month after you get this vaccination to get pregnant.
Your provider may recommend other vaccinations before pregnancy to protect you against certain diseases, depending on your risk. These include:
- Pneumonia. This is an infection in one or both lungs.
- Meningitis. This is an infection that causes swelling in the brain and spinal cord.
- Hepatitis A and B. These are liver infections caused by the hepatitis A and B viruses.
- Haemophilus Influenzae Type b (also called Hib). This is a serious disease caused by bacteria. It can cause meningitis, pneumonia, other serious infections and death.
- Tdap (stands for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). Pertussis also is called whooping cough. In some cases, providers recommend a Td vaccination, which protects against tetanus and diphtheria but not pertussis. Ask your provider what’s best for you.
Learn more about vaccinations before and during pregnancy at: marchofdimes.org