Are you expecting a baby soon and debating whether or not you should get a flu shot and/or Tdap shot? You’re not alone. A recent report from Vital Signs shows that despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations for pregnant women to get the flu and Tdap vaccinations, there is a rising number of women still declining the vaccinations; only around 35% of women who were pregnant received the flu and Tdap vaccinations and only around 54% received just the flu vaccination. The results of the study also showed that communication between physicians/health care providers and patients, needs improvement and women need to be better informed of the benefits of getting vaccinated as well as the potentially serious risks of not getting them. This is why we’ve put together some answers to common questions about flu vaccines and Tdap vaccines below.
Why should I get the flu vaccine if I am pregnant?
According to the CDC, women who are pregnant are twice as more likely to be hospitalized if they develop the flu compared to women in the same age range who are not pregnant. Getting the flu vaccine while pregnant protects mom and baby from developing the flu and becoming hospitalized. When a mother receives the flu vaccination during pregnancy, the antibodies are then passed onto the baby to protect the baby as well. Babies cannot receive a flu shot until they are at least six months old which is why it’s important that that mom gets vaccinated. The complications from influenza among infants include pneumonia, dehydration, and swelling of the brain called encephalopathy. The CDC says that infants under six months old also have the highest risk of dying from influenza among children.
Flu vaccination during pregnancy lowers the risk of influenza hospitalization in:
At Burdett Birth Center, we offer the flu shot to staff and recommend family members make appointments to be vaccinated before the birth of new babies.
Why should I get the Tdap vaccine if I am pregnant?
The Tdap vaccine protects against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria. Whooping cough is highly contagious and spreads quickly, making it easy for a baby to contract. Once contracted, it can be very serious since an infant’s immune system is still developing. An infant can receive the first dose of their Tdap vaccine when he or she is two months old. If a mother receives the Tdap vaccination during pregnancy, she’s protecting her baby until he is old enough to receive the vaccine.
Tdap vaccination during pregnancy lowers the risk of:
- Whooping cough in babies less than 2 months old by 78%
- Hospitalization due to whooping cough in babies less than 2 months old by 91%
Burdett Birth Center offers the Tdap vaccine for new mothers. It is safe if you are breastfeeding.
Top 3 Misconceptions About the Flu & Tdap Vaccinations
- I have had the Tdap vaccine already so I don’t need it again. (The Tdap vaccine is needed during each pregnancy.)
- I am doubtful about the safety and effectiveness of getting the vaccines during pregnancy. (Both vaccines are very safe for mom and baby and significantly decrease your chances.)
- I didn’t know that getting these vaccinations should be part of my prenatal care plan. (Receiving both vaccines during pregnancy should be part of the prenatal plan for all women.)
The CDC recommends getting vaccinated in your third trimester for the best results. But it’s important to point out that women who are pregnant can safely get an injected flu shot during any trimester of their pregnancy to protect themselves and their babies from the flu. Tdap vaccinations given in the third trimester are 78% effective in preventing cases of whooping cough in infants and more than 90% effective in preventing hospitalization of infants under 2 months old. If you don’t get the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, you can get it before you leave the hospital or birth center. It is never too late to get vaccinated to protect yourself (and your family)
Any information in this article is not intended to be used as medical advice, but instead for thought and consideration. For more information, please consult your provider and child’s pediatrician about which vaccinations are recommended for you and your child during pregnancy.