Vaccines And Pregnancy: What To Do?
When a woman becomes pregnant, the health of the baby becomes just as important as the mother’s health. Immunizations are a crucial part of preventing specific diseases and infections, especially when considering international travel. But which ones are safe for pregnant women? Here’s what women should know about vaccines, traveling, and pregnancy.
The shot everyone needs to get
Research has shown that pregnant women are more likely to experience health complications from catching the seasonal flu virus than other patients who are not pregnant. Getting the annual flu shot can reduce a pregnant woman’s risk of catching the flu by up to 40%. Additionally, one study concluded that the yearly flu vaccine can reduce the risk of adults being admitted to the hospital by 37% and reduce the chances of going to the intensive care unit (ICU) by 82%.
What about travel?
The only way to completely get rid of the risk is to avoid traveling to areas where vaccination is required during pregnancy. However, when travel is unavoidable, research has found that getting an immunization poses less risk to a pregnant woman than getting the infection.
Specific concerns for pregnant women
Some standard travel vaccinations include those for yellow fever or measles. Pregnant women should avoid vaccines with live viruses, such as those for chickenpox or the measles. Always discuss specific recommendations with a healthcare provider well in advance of travel. Additionally, malaria can be more severe in pregnant women and increase the risk of pregnancy complications. While there is no malaria vaccination, women should start anti-malaria medication before travel and take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Your travel vaccination checklist
The requirements for travel immunizations will vary. For example, the risks and concerns will be different based on a traveler’s accommodations, food sources, and activities. Consider these questions before traveling:
- Are there special warnings or precautions for these specific countries?
- How long is the trip?
- What will the season be?
- What are the lodging conditions?
- Will there be any interactions with animals or in a medical setting?
- Are all routine wellness visits up-to-date?
Before you buy your plane ticket
Women who are pregnant should discuss all travel plans with an ongoing healthcare provider. Besides travel vaccinations, women also need to consider the safety of travel during different trimesters of pregnancy. Always speak with a healthcare provider or pharmacist about any vaccine concerns.