A vaccination helps to protect a person from infections. When a lady is pregnant she generally shares most of the things with her baby. So the analogy is that any immunization given to the mother will have its effect on the baby. If she is not upto date with the vaccinations either she or the baby may be at risk! Some vaccinations that are given during pregnancy keep the baby safe and protected until the time the baby receives its own vaccination. But not all vaccines are safe during pregnancy as some of them are known to have harmful effects on the baby. In general there is no risk to the developing baby from inactivated bacterial or virus vaccines but on the other hand live attenuated viral or bacterial vaccines are generally contraindicated in pregnancy. Best thing is to be up to date with all your adult vaccines before you plan a pregnancy. Sometimes it may not be possible. Let us see the vaccines one by one.
Vaccines to be taken during pregnancy:
Tetanus Toxoid : We generally give two doses of tetanus toxiod at an interval of one month to prevent tetanus and its complications. Rather than giving this it is now recommended that the first dose can be of Td (tetanus and diptheria) and the second one given between 27and 36 weeks in form of TDaP (tetanus / diphtheria and acellular pertusis ). Tetanus and whooping cough are serious diseases from which these vaccinations will protect your bundle of joy.
Influenza Vaccine (Inactivated influenza vaccine): These days this is recommended in all pregnant ladies after 26 weeks or even earlier if the woman is at risk .There are changes in the immune system, heart and lungs of a pregnant lady and so a pregnant lady and a lady who has recently delivered is at a higher risk severe form of influenza or its complications.
Vaccines that are not recommended during pregnancy:
It is advisable to wait for a month after these vaccinations before you try to conceive as some of these may cause birth defects in the baby.
Some vaccines may be used under special circumstances where one feels that the risk of disease is more than risk of taking it.These are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, yellow fever vaccine and antirabies vaccine.
So not all vaccinations are safe in pregnancy please talk to your gynaecologist before you take any vaccination!