Vaccination & Pregnancy

Pregnant women are always given more careful consideration in medical terms because the consequences of any treatment or test will impact both mother and child. Understandably, many women are concerned about the safety of vaccination during pregnancy, and in this article we look at whether or not vaccines are safe during pregnancy.

Vaccination during pregnancy

Some kinds of vaccination are perfectly fine during pregnancy, while others are less safe. Your midwife or doctor will probably go through the specifics of which ones you need and can safely receive, and if there is a vaccination you can’t safely receive during your pregnancy, it will be scheduled after childbirth if possible. Ultimately your doctor will be more intimately aware of your medical condition, and therefore advise whether or not you need vaccination during your pregnancy.

The seasonal flu vaccine during pregnancy

The seasonal flu jab is perfectly safe for pregnant women, and is in fact recommended as your baby can benefit from the injection as well. This jab is usually recommended during the ‘official’ flu season, between October and January.

For the 2012-2013 flu season this vaccine is actually recommended for all pregnant women because of recent increases in the spread of the infection. Pregnant women can be more susceptible to the infection because of the demands a pregnancy exacts on the body, which can sometimes leave mother and child more vulnerable to infection.  If you are pregnant during this season, you should contact and consult your GP or midwife, and if you don’t practices updating their register will probably contact you to follow up on whether or not you have had the vaccine.

Which vaccines are safe for administration during pregnancy?

Some vaccines are safer to administer during a pregnancy than others, and this comes down to the type of vaccine being used as mentioned earlier in this article. Inactive vaccines like the tetanus jab are considered safe as the dose is composed of inactivated microbes that can’t cause disease anymore.

That being said, most vaccines will be avoided until after the pregnancy as a safety precaution. Exceptions being cases where the mother’s skin has been pierced or broken by some means when she hasn’t received adequate immunisation against tetanus. In these circumstances, a tetanus jab will be offered.

Which vaccines are not safe for administration during pregnancy?

While normally perfectly safe, live, attenuated vaccines are not given to pregnant women. This type of vaccine is composed of weakened but live versions of disease causing bacteria and viruses, and while this is usually a safe and highly effective method of immunisation, live vaccines can pose a risk to the health and safety of a child. The agents within the vaccine would make their way into unborn child’s bloodstream, and because the immune system of a foetus is still developing, these agents can still potentially cause severe damage.

If you are concerned about the fact that you can’t receive a vaccination during your pregnancy, you should rest assured that in many cases this isn’t a problem because of the passive immunity a child inherits once born. Maternal antibodies, key components of the immune system, are passed on to new born babies to protect them during the early stages of their lives. This immunity is further supported by the NHS’ childhood immunisation programme, which bolsters their natural defences.

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