Vaccinations – Why is it essential during pregnany

What is a vaccine?

Vaccines are nothing but a weakened or killed strain of a disease-causing pathogen, which is administered into the body through a process called vaccination.

Why is a vaccine required?

It is done to immunize the mother (protects the mother) by providing “antibodies”, which then passes to the baby (through the placenta) and offers protection to the little one in the womb.

So, what are the vaccines that you need to take during your pregnancy?

They are categorized  based on when they are taken during the course of your pregnancy as :

1. Before pregnancy:

  • Chickenpox (Varicella) vaccine
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • Hepatitis B (Hep B) vaccine
  • HPV vaccine

2. During pregnancy:

  • Influenza vaccine ( “the flu shot”)
  • Tetanus, Diptheria, and Pertussis (Tdap Vaccine)

Vaccines that you MAY NEED during your pregnancy:

  • Hepatitis A vaccine
  • Pneumococcal vaccine
  • Meningococcal vaccine

3. After pregnancy:

Based on your immunization schedule and as per your doctor’s recommendation.

What vaccines are safe and unsafe during pregnancy?

Vaccines generally come in three forms:

  • Live virus
  • Dead virus &
  • Toxoids (chemically altered bacteria proteins)

Vaccines which are made from dead viruses and toxoids are safe, these include

  • the flu shot (dead virus vaccine) and
  • tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (Tdap) shot (toxoid vaccines).

During your pregnancy, you should avoid live virus vaccines, this includes the combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR), as there is a slight possibility that this will harm the unborn baby.

List of few vaccines to be avoided during pregnancy are:

  • Chickenpox (Varicella) vaccine
  • Smallpox vaccine
  • Rubella-containing vaccine
  • Mumps-containing vaccine
  • Influenza live vaccine (nasal spray)
  • Yellow fever vaccine
  • Oral polio vaccine
  • Typhoid vaccine

List of few TRAVEL vaccines to be avoided during pregnancy are: (given a minimum of 4-6 weeks before pregnancy)

  • Typhoid
  • BCG (for tuberculosis)
  • Japanese encephalitis

So, if you are planning your pregnancy, bear in mind these few facts. Speak to your doctor/ gynecologist so that your immunization schedule is well planned and provides safety to you and your little one.




Dr. Aishwarya Rajeev has completed her MDS degree and is currently pursuing her PhD. She is an avid reader and loves to teach and write!

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