Vaccine Safety in Pregnancy

Due to the timing of routine vaccinations, or because of employment or school requirements, many pregnant women are faced with the decision of whether or not to receive certain vaccines during pregnancy. In many cases, vaccines prevent infections that would otherwise be very harmful to both mom and baby.

Generally, pregnant women can safely receive vaccines made from dead viruses, from genetically engineered viruses, or from toxoids, which are chemically altered proteins from a bacterium. In contrast, live viruses should be avoided, as they can potentially cause harm to the baby. Please see below the 2005 guidelines presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Safe Vaccines

  • Influenza - if produced by an inactivated virus (as is usually the case); the vaccine can be received during any trimester, and is recommended for every pregnant woman; the flu does not harm the baby, but the illness may cause more severe symptoms when a woman is pregnant
  • Tetanus - receive in the 2nd or 3rd trimesters if it is due (due every 10 years), or if exposure occurs (deep or dirty wound); generally includes diphtheria toxoid which is also safe
  • Meningococcal or Rabies - recommended to receive if exposures occur
  • Hepatitis B - recommended if you work in health care or day care, or if you live with somebody who is infected with Hepatitis B

Vaccines That Should NOT Be Receieved During Pregnancy (These vaccines may harm the baby.)

  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
  • Varicella
  • Typhoid
  • Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)

Vaccines That MAY Be Recommended if the Risk of Infection is High

(This generally means that there is only limited data on the risks of the vaccination, although there are no reports of the vaccine causing harm to the baby.)

  • Anthrax
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Smallpox
  • Yellow Fever

**According to the CDC, breast-feeding does not adversely affect immunization and is not a contraindication for any vaccine.

For further information, please visit the CDC's website.