Vaccines in Pregnancy

Can children get vaccinated when their mother is pregnant?

Yes.

The CDC states that “pregnancy of recipient’s mother or other close or household contact” is not a contraindication to getting vaccinated, even for live vaccines like MMR or Varivax.

Vaccines for Pregnant Women

Since infants can't get a flu shot until they are 6 months old, they rely on their pregnant mothers to get vaccinated and to pass on their protection to them.
Since infants can’t get a flu shot until they are 6 months old, they rely on their pregnant mothers to get vaccinated and to pass on their protection to them.

What about pregnant women?

Are vaccines safe or necessary for them?

While they shouldn’t get live vaccines, like MMR, Varivax, Flumist, or the yellow fever vaccine, or the HPV vaccine, it is safe and necessary for pregnant women to get most other vaccines.

In fact, all pregnant women should get:

Getting vaccinated during pregnancy helps protect newborn babies and infants against the flu and pertussis (whooping cough).

Are Vaccines During Pregnancy Really Safe?

What about the idea that vaccines have never been tested for safety or effectiveness in pregnancy?

“Health care providers and patients should be aware that the reassuring safety data for use of the aforementioned vaccines in pregnancy are compelling, and there is no link to vaccine administration and miscarriage.”

ACOG on Vaccines Routinely Recommended during Pregnancy

The seasonal flu and Tdap vaccines, the two most commonly recommended are safe and effective in pregnancy. And so are the others that are not contraindicated.

In fact, the Vaccine Safety Datalink has published 14 studies “related to pregnancy and vaccination during pregnancy” and is “also able to use data to study the health of children born to women who were vaccinated during pregnancy.”

What About the Association of Flu Shots with Miscarriages?

You may have seen the headlines about a new study in which “Researchers find hint of a link between flu vaccine and miscarriage.”

Published in the journal Vaccine, the study did find that having a miscarriage “was associated with influenza vaccination in the preceding 28 days.”

The “modest” association only held during the 2010-12 flu seasons though and only if:

  • the mother had also received an H1N1 flu vaccine the previous year
  • the flu vaccine was given early in her pregnancy

The association was found by comparing two small groups of women who were pregnant during flu season, including one whose pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. They then compared the two groups to find differences. And the main difference they found was that the group with the miscarriages were more likely to have had a flu shot the previous year. So that is the link, association, or maybe more appropriately named – the correlation.

“This study does not quantify the risk of miscarriage and does not prove that flu vaccine was the cause of the miscarriage.”

CDC on Flu Vaccination & Possible Safety Signal

Interestingly, the study found no association between having a flu shot during the same season and having a miscarriage. The pregnant women in the control group were just as like to have flu shots, even early in their pregnancy.

It is also important to note that several other studies have not found an association between miscarriages and flu shots, including an almost identical study that looked at the 2005-07 flu seasons!

“A recent publication has reported a safety signal concerning influenza vaccination when given very early in the first trimester. In this study, influenza vaccination, when given in very early pregnancy, was associated with an increased risk of a pregnancy loss within the first 28 days following vaccination. Scientifically, it is unclear why this would occur. There was no association seen with a pregnancy loss more than 28 days after vaccination. In the same study, when vaccination was given either later in the first trimester or in the second or third trimester, there was no association seen with pregnancy loss or any other adverse pregnancy outcomes. Additional studies are needed to address the concern raised by this study.”

ACOG statement It is Safe to Receive Flu Shot During Pregnancy

So it is still safe to get a flu shot while you are pregnant, as this possible association continues to be studied. There are already ongoing studies looking at flu shots and pregnancy during the 2012 through 2015 flu seasons that will be completed next year.

“Two other medical journals rejected the article before a third, Vaccine, accepted it. Dr. Gregory Poland, Vaccine’s editor-in-chief, said it was a well-designed study that raised a question that shouldn’t be ignored. But he doesn’t believe flu shots caused the miscarriages. “Not at all,” said Poland, who also is director of vaccine research at the Mayo Clinic.

Though this study may cause worry and confusion, it is evidence “of just how rigorous and principled our vaccine safety monitoring system is,” said Jason Schwartz, a Yale University vaccine policy expert.”

AP report Study prompts call to examine flu vaccine and miscarriage

While most experts don’t think that getting a flu shot while you are pregnant is harmful, even considering this new study, they do know that getting the flu is.

What To Know About Vaccines During Pregnancy

When you are pregnant, getting your Tdap and flu vaccines can help keep you and your baby safe and healthy.

More Information on Vaccines During Pregnancy:

Updated September 13, 2017

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