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Vaccines for Pregnant Women

Vaccines can help protect both you and your baby from vaccine-preventable diseases. During pregnancy, vaccinated mothers pass on infection-fighting proteins called antibodies to their babies.

Antibodies provide some immunity (protection) against certain diseases during their first few months of life, when your baby is still too young to get vaccinated. It also helps provide important protection for you throughout your pregnancy.

To protect yourself and your baby, it’s important to understand which vaccines you may need before, during, and after your pregnancy.

On this page, you'll find answers to common questions about vaccines for pregnant women.

Which vaccines do I need before I get pregnant?

If you’re planning to get pregnant, it’s important to make sure you’re up to date on all of your adult vaccines. Check this easy-to-read vaccine schedule (PDF - 138KB) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find routine vaccine recommendations by age.

Before your pregnancy, talk with your doctor about your vaccine history. You may need vaccines that protect against:

  • Rubella: Rubella during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects that can lead to death before birth or life-long illness for your child. To find out if you’re protected from rubella, you can check with your doctor or have a pre-pregnancy blood test. It’s important to wait a month after getting the vaccine before you try to get pregnant. Learn more about pregnancy and rubella.
  • Hepatitis B: If you have hepatitis B infection during pregnancy, it can pass to your baby during birth. Hepatitis B can lead to serious, ongoing health problems for your child. Talk with your doctor about getting tested for hepatitis B and whether or not you need to get vaccinated. Learn more about pregnancy and hepatitis B.

Which vaccines do I need during pregnancy?

All pregnant women need to get vaccinated against the flu and whooping cough during each pregnancy.

The flu shot

Getting vaccinated against the flu is important because pregnant women are at increased risk for serious complications from the flu. The flu can also cause serious problems like early labor and delivery, which can affect your baby’s health.

In addition to protecting you and your unborn baby, getting the flu shot during pregnancy makes it less likely that newborns will get the flu for several months after they’re born — and that lowers their risk of serious complications like pneumonia (lung infection).

You can get the flu shot during any trimester of your pregnancy. Learn more about the flu shot and pregnancy.

The whooping cough vaccine

Getting vaccinated against whooping cough helps protect young babies from whooping cough before they’re old enough to get vaccinated themselves. About half of babies who get whooping cough end up in the hospital — and the disease can be life threatening.

The vaccine can be given any time during pregnancy, but experts recommend getting the vaccine as early as possible in the third trimester (between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy). The whooping cough vaccine is also recommended for other adults who spend time with your baby.

Learn more about the whooping cough vaccine and pregnancy.

Is it safe to get vaccines during pregnancy?

Yes. It’s safe to get the vaccines recommended during pregnancy. Research shows that whooping cough and flu vaccines help provide important disease protection for pregnant women. And experts closely monitor the safety of vaccines. Learn more about vaccine safety.

Like any medicine, vaccines can have side effects. But these side effects are usually mild and go away on their own. The side effects of vaccines that protect against the flu and whooping cough include:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Muscle aches
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever

Many people experience these side effects — not just pregnant women.

Find out more about:

Which vaccines do I need after my baby is born?

After your baby is born, you may need to get vaccines to protect against:

  • Whooping cough: If you didn’t get the whooping cough vaccine when you were pregnant, you’ll need to get vaccinated right after delivery. Other people who spend time with the baby may also need to get the whooping cough vaccine.
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella, and chickenpox: If you’re not already protected from measles, mumps, rubella, or chickenpox, you’ll need to get vaccinated before you leave the hospital.

All routinely recommended vaccines are safe for breastfeeding women.

Learn about vaccines your baby needs early in life.

Are you planning to travel? Make sure you and your baby are protected.

Many vaccine-preventable diseases that are rare in the United States are still common in other parts of the world. If you’re pregnant and planning to travel outside the United States, talk with your doctor about vaccines that may be recommended for you.

Find more information about traveling during pregnancy.

Zika and Pregnant Women

Zika virus can spread from a pregnant woman to her baby and cause serious birth defects, including microcephaly (abnormally small head). You can get the virus from a mosquito bite or from your partner during sex.

Right now, there’s no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent Zika is to avoid travel to areas with risk of Zika. If you must travel to an area with Zika, talk with your doctor first — and take steps to prevent mosquito bites and practice safe sex. Learn more about Zika and pregnancy.

Last reviewed: December 2017