Women should be up to date on their vaccines before becoming pregnant, and should receive vaccines against both the flu and whooping cough (pertussis) during pregnancy. These vaccines not only protect the mother by preventing illnesses and complications, but also pass on protection to her baby before birth.
Get off to a healthy start by making sure that your immunizations are up to date before becoming pregnant. Some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as rubella, can lead to significant pregnancy complications, including birth defects. Women who are planning to become pregnant may need to receive vaccines before the start of pregnancy. These vaccines, such as the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine, may need to be administered at least 4 weeks before a woman becomes pregnant.
Vaccines recommended during pregnancy
The vaccines you get during your pregnancy will provide your developing baby with some disease protection (immunity) that will last the first months of life after birth. By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, you can pass antibodies to your baby that may help protect against diseases. This early coverage is critical for diseases like the flu, whooping cough, and RSV because babies in the first several months of life are at the greatest risk of severe illness from these diseases, but are too young to be vaccinated themselves. Passing maternal antibodies on to them is the only way to help directly benefit them. You can continue to look after your child’s health after they are born by following the recommended childhood immunization schedule as it is the best way to protect them from serious, vaccine-preventable diseases, starting with the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth.
Even if you are generally healthy, changes in your immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to have a severe case of the flu if you catch it. If you catch the flu when you are pregnant, you also have a higher chance of experiencing pregnancy complications, such as premature labor and delivery. Getting a flu shot will help protect you and your baby while you are pregnant. You can get a flu shot during any pregnancy trimester.
If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant, you are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19, compared to people who are not pregnant. Additionally, if you are infected by COVID-19 during pregnancy, you are at increased risk of complications that can affect your pregnancy and developing baby.
Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccine can help protect you and your baby from serious illness from COVID-19.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, makes children cough uncontrollably. The cough is often so hard and so persistent that children can't catch their breath and make a "whooping" sound when they attempt to breathe in against a windpipe severely narrowed by mucus. Whooping cough is one of the most contagious diseases known. Mothers can spread whooping cough to their babies. This infection can be very dangerous for a baby.
The Tdap vaccine helps protect you and your developing baby. Once you have protection from the whooping cough from the Tdap vaccine, you are less likely to give whooping cough to your newborn while caring for them. Doctors and midwives who specialize in caring for pregnant women agree that the Tdap vaccine is safe and important to get during the third trimester of each pregnancy. You should receive this vaccine within your 27-36 week of pregnancy, preferably during the earlier part of this timeframe. This ensures that you and your child gets the greatest protection possible against this disease. Getting the vaccine during your pregnancy will not put you at increased risk for pregnancy complications.
Even if you received the Tdap vaccine in the past, you should get one during each pregnancy.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms in healthy adults, but can be dangerous for infants and young children. RSV can cause severe lung conditions in young children, such as pneumonia (lung infection) and bronchiolitis (inflammation of the airways in the lung). RSV is the most common cause of hospitalization in children under the age of 2 years. There are now two new immunization products that are designed to protect young children from the potentially harmful effects of RSV infection.
CDC recommends you use one of these two tools to protect your baby from getting very sick with RSV (most infants will not need both):
- An RSV vaccine given during pregnancy: The vaccine is given to pregnant people during weeks 32 through 36 of pregnancy. The RSV vaccine given to a pregnant person has been shown to significantly reduce the number of medical visits for RSV and the risk of severe RSV for the baby in its first six months after birth.
- An RSV immunization given to infants and older babies: A dose of protective antibodies given to infants has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of both RSV-related hospitalizations and healthcare visits in infants. Most infants whose mothers received an RSV vaccine do not need to also get an RSV antibody.
Childhood immunization resources
For other common questions related to childhood immunizations, please visit our common questions about childhood immunizations and childhood vaccine information for parents and caregivers pages.