Vaccines Bring Us Closer: Celebrating World Immunization Week

Vaccines keep us healthy by protecting us from certain diseases. Unfortunately, for the last year, we’ve had to stay apart from loved ones and friends to avoid getting seriously ill with COVID-19. Now – just in time for World Immunization Week—April 24 to April 30—we have something to celebrate: Several COVID-19 vaccines.

This year’s theme for World Immunization Week is “Vaccines Bring Us Closer.” Now more than ever, vaccines are allowing us to get together with others in a safer way.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Pregnant people are at higher risk for serious illness with COVID-19. Pregnant people who get the virus also may be at higher risk for pregnancy problems, such as preterm birth.  The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended that the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for emergency use can be used in people ages 16-18 and older for the prevention of COVID-19 . These vaccines work with your immune system to get your body ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. While more research is needed, experts believe that the COVID-19 vaccines currently available are safe for people who are pregnant or who are chestfeeding.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, pregnant people and those who are chestfeeding may choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine .Talk with your provider about any questions you may have about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Which other vaccines are safe during pregnancy?

Your health care provider also may recommend that you get these vaccines while you’re pregnant:

  • Flu (also called influenza). The flu is a serious disease that can cause fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches, vomiting and diarrhea. Getting the flu when you’re pregnant increases your risk of preterm labor. Get a flu shot once a year during flu season (October through May).
  • Tdap (stands for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). Getting the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy helps protect your baby from pertussis (also known as whooping cough) in the first few months of life, when the disease is most dangerous. Get a Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy.

Which vaccines are recommended before pregnancy?

If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, get a preconception checkup. At your checkup, ask your provider if you need any vaccinations and how long to wait after getting them before trying to get pregnant. Some vaccines can help prevent your baby from birth defects.

Your provider may recommend these vaccines before you get pregnant:

Flu. The flu shot is safe to get before and during pregnancy.

HPV (stands for human papillomavirus). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in this country. It can cause genital warts or cervical cancer.

MMR (stands for measles, mumps and rubella). You probably got the MMR vaccine as a child, but may need a booster shot now that you’re older. Before you get pregnant, ask your provider for a blood test to see if you’re immune to MMR. If you need a booster shot, get another blood test after the shot to check your immunity before you get pregnant. Wait four weeks after you get an MMR vaccination before getting pregnant.

Measles spreads easily and can cause rash, cough and fever. It can be harmful during pregnancy and can cause miscarriage. Mumps can cause fever, headache and swollen glands in the face and neck. Rubella can cause mild flu-like symptoms and a rash. It can cause serious problems during pregnancy, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth or congenital rubella syndrome.

Varicella (also called chickenpox). Chickenpox spreads easily and can cause itchy skin, rash and fever. If you get chickenpox during pregnancy, it can cause birth defects in your baby. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and haven’t had chickenpox or been vaccinated for it, tell your provider.

There are other vaccines that your provider may recommend.

Vaccines have protected us from diseases for more than 200 years. Vaccines can help us get back to being close to our friends and family again. 

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