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Immunizations to consider when starting a family during COVID-19


Immunizations to consider when starting a family during COVID-19

To say the last year has changed life as we knew it is an understatement. Think of all the ways we’ve had to adjust socially as a result: the muted dating scene, the postponed weddings, the uncelebrated engagements, the balcony baby showers. Despite confinement, humans have nevertheless found ways to celebrate progress, and yes, that means starting a new family, too! Sure, ultrasounds and routine exams usually leave expecting parents to videocall each other from the examination room to the car, but if these last few months have taught us anything at all, it’s that life very much goes on.

Not sure what to expect vaccinations-wise when you’re expecting during COVID-19? Here are important immunizations to ask your health care provider about if you think you’re missing some.

Can you get vaccines if you’re already pregnant?

To start trying is a big decision for anyone – global pandemic or not – and access to immunization will actually change depending on whether there’s a bun in the oven! Inactive vaccines, which contain a virus or bacteria that is already dead and can’t cause disease, are considered safe to use during pregnancy (see table below).1 Then, there are the types of vaccines that are not recommended when pregnant: live-attenuated vaccines. These contain weakened bacteria or viruses and, though they are unlikely to cause a disease in healthy people, it is possible that they pose a risk to developing embryos.

Examples of inactive and live-attenuated vaccines

Inactive

Live-attenuated

Pertussis (whooping cough)

Measles

Influenza (seasonal flu)

Mumps

Tetanus and diphtheria

Rubella

What immunizations do you need before getting pregnant?

During pregnancy, the immune system is weakened so that the body does not reject the fetus.2 It’s important to get vaccinated against common, preventable diseases before pregnancy to avoid putting the baby’s health at risk.  

  1. Chickenpox: Unsure if you’re immune to chickenpox? Your doctor can determine if vaccination will be required based on the routine results of a blood test.
  2. Hepatitis B: Hep B can be easily passed onto an unborn child, so it’s important to determine that you are protected against it. Though the series of shots can be started before conception occurs, its completion can be carried on after an active pregnancy is detected.
  3. HPV: The HPV vaccine is recommended for children and adults aged nine to 45 years.3 Doses should not be taken while pregnant, but if they were started before a pregnancy, the series can resume once the baby has been delivered.
  4. Measles, mumps and rubella: These diseases could cause severe disfiguration and even lead to miscarriage if a pregnant person gets infected. Though the vaccine is not safe to get during pregnancy, it should be administered before conception.

What immunizations can you get while pregnant?

There are two main vaccines that pregnant people are encouraged to get to improve their immunity4:

  1. Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis: Tetanus can severely affect the nervous system, and diphtheria and pertussis can cause irreparable damage to one’s respiratory system. It is recommended that, in order to prevent these adverse effects, the Tdap shot be administered during pregnancy between 27 and 36 weeks. Part of the immunization is even passed on to the baby until the newborn can get preventative vaccines of their own.
  2. Influenza: A pregnant person is particularly vulnerable to the seasonal flu due to their weakened immune system and risks becoming severely ill. Even if you’ve gotten the vaccine in the past, it’s important to seek protection annually as this virus mutates regularly.

Have any questions about immunization before and during pregnancy? Talk to your doctor or health care provider to know where to begin.

Brought to you by Vaccines411.ca – know where to go for your vaccinations.

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.



Sources

Note: the hyperlinks that direct to other sites are not continuously updated. It is possible that some links become untraceable over time. Thank you.

  1. Vaccination - Pregnancy Info
    https://www.pregnancyinfo.ca/your-pregnancy/routine-tests/vaccination/
  2. Vaccines to Get Before and During Pregnancy
    whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/vaccines-before-during-pregnancy/
  3. What if you could help prevent CERVICAL CANCER with a vaccine?
    https://www.gardasil9.ca/
  4. Which vaccines should I get if I am pregnant?
    https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/vaccines-during-pregnancy.html#:~:text=CDC%20recommends%20that%20pregnant%20women,vaccine)%20and%20the%20Tdap%20vaccine