Vaccinations are essential for good health at all times, but they are particularly important during conception and pregnancy, both from the point of view of protecting the mother and from the point of view of protecting the foetus and newborn child since immunity can be achieved through the placenta.
Women are at a heightened risk of infections during pregnancy because their immune system is weakened and, in some cases, this can even affect the baby’s development. This is why immunisation during pregnancy is so important. It helps to protect both the mother and the foetus.
The flu, or influenza, affects 11% of pregnant women and they are at an increased risk of complications and serious illness. Flu vaccinations during assisted reproduction treatment and pregnancy are, therefore, advised. If you are pregnant and have any of the following symptoms, get in touch with an obstetrician:
- Nasal congestion
- Headaches and/or pain around the body
- Sore throats and coughs
- Fatigue or general tiredness
- High temperatures
Flu injections are safe and sure for the mother and they allow passive transfer of antibodies to the baby in order to protect it from the flu. This passive transfer is even sustained for several months following birth. This is particularly important if the baby is due during the winter months since children under 6 months cannot be vaccinated.
The vaccine that is suitable for pregnant women is an inactivated influenza vaccine. It contains killed influenza viruses that cannot cause the flu once it has been administered. A nasal aerosol vaccine is not advised since it contains attenuated live influenza viruses.
The period for flu vaccinations runs from October to May. Vaccinations can be administered earlier if there is a risk of chronic heart and/or respiratory conditions in the patient.
Some of the advantages of having a flu vaccination during fertility treatment or pregnancy include:
- A decreased chance of having maternal flu
- A decreased chance of complications due to maternal flu
- Decreased intrauterine foetal death rates
- A decrease in foetuses that are born very low in weight
- Decreased chances of premature birth
- Protection for nursing babies during the first six months of their lives
RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING OTHER VACCINES
We also recommend the DTaP vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) for pregnant women. It should be administered preferably between weeks 27 and 36 of gestation in order to optimise immunisation of both the mother and the foetus.
Vaccination with active viruses such as the active influenza, measles, rubella, varicella and BCG (tuberculosis) vaccines is not advised for pregnant women. If you have had vaccinations of this kind, you should wait at least one month before getting pregnant or starting fertility treatment.
Healthy immunisation habits can help to care for the mother’s health and the baby’s health during the antenatal, neonatal and postnatal stages.
We highly recommended having the influenza vaccination during pregnancy, not only because it does not pose a risk to your health, but because it is a way of protecting both pregnant women and nursing babies during the first few months of their lives against the serious effects of the flu.
- Pediatric Annals. Vol.48,No.7,2019
- BMJ 2019,366:4454doi10.1136/bmj
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Patient Education.
- World Health Organization (WHO) position paper on influenza vaccinations – WER, 19 August 2005.