Before you become pregnant, find all your vaccination records. Check with the clinic where you got care when you were young or see if your vaccines are in the state immunization system (WAIIS). Whether it is your first baby, or you are planning to have another child, talk with your doctor about which shots you need, including:
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
The MMR vaccine provides long-lasting protection against measles, mumps, and rubella.
You were most likely vaccinated with the MMR vaccine as a child but check with your doctor or healthcare professional before getting pregnant. Pregnant people who get rubella can miscarry or have babies with severe birth defects such as blindness, deafness, or developmental delays. You cannot get the MMR vaccine while pregnant. If possible, wait one month after getting your MMR vaccine before becoming pregnant.
Get a flu shot once a year during flu season (October through May). The flu is a serious disease that can cause fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches, vomiting and diarrhea. Getting the flu when you’re pregnant increases your risk of preterm labor and preterm birth (labor and birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Babies born prematurely can have more health problems and may need to stay in the hospital longer than babies born after 37 weeks. The flu shot is safe to get before and during pregnancy. We recommend getting the flu vaccine before the end of October, before flu season picks up.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is the most common STI (sexually transmitted infection) in this country. An STI is an infection you can get from having unprotected sex or intimate physical contact with someone who has HPV. HPV can cause genital warts or cervical cancer. HPV vaccination is recommended for people through age 26. For people age 27 through 45 years who have not received the HPV vaccine, talk with your healthcare provider to see if you should receive this vaccine. You can’t get the HPV vaccine during pregnancy, so if you need it, get it before you get pregnant.
- Chickenpox (varicella)
Varicella spreads easily and can cause itchy skin, rash, and fever. If you get chickenpox during pregnancy, it can cause birth defects. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. They change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. Birth defects can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops or how the body works. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and haven’t had chickenpox or been vaccinated for it, tell your provider. This vaccination is not safe to get during pregnancy, so get it before you get pregnant. Wait 1 month after you get this vaccination to get pregnant.
- Other Vaccines
Your provider may recommend vaccinations to protect you against other diseases, depending on your risk. These include:
- COVID-19 vaccine
- Pneumonia (Pneumococcal vaccine)
- Meningitis (Meningococcal vaccine)
- Hepatitis A and B
- haemophilus influenzae type b (also called Hib).
Babies can get protection from certain diseases during pregnancy. Talk with your healthcare provider about which vaccines you need during pregnancy.
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Tdap)
The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Whooping cough can be serious for anyone, but for a newborn it can be life-threatening. About 7 in 10 deaths from whooping cough are from babies younger than 2 months old. These babies are too young to receive a Tdap vaccine.
Pregnant people need to get Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy. The best time to get the vaccine is between 27 and 36 weeks of gestation (or the third trimester). By getting this vaccine, pregnant people develop protection against whooping cough and pass some protection to their baby. These antibodies will provide the baby some short-term, early protection against whooping cough.
NOTE: Babies who receive Tdap in the womb still need their own whooping cough vaccines (DTaP), starting at 2 months of age.
- Flu (Influenza)
Flu seasons vary in their timing from year to year, but usually occurs from October to May. You should get your flu vaccine by the end of October, regardless of where you are in your pregnancy. This timing helps ensure that you are protected before flu activity begins to increase.
Evidence continues to show that COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy is safe and effective. People who are pregnant, breast/chest feeding, trying to get pregnant, or might become pregnant in the future should stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, including getting a COVID-19 booster shot when it’s time to get one.
If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant, you are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 compared to people who are not pregnant.
- Surround your baby with protection
Newborns are too young to get flu and whooping cough vaccine. Getting these vaccines while you are pregnant gives the most protection. Getting routine shots while you are breast/chest feeding is safe for you and your baby.
To further protect your baby:Keep your baby away from sick people. Ask family, friends, and caregivers to get their flu shot and make sure they are up to date on other shots, like whooping cough and measles. Remind people around your baby to wash their hands often.
The baby will also start to get their own vaccines to protect against serious childhood diseases. The first set of vaccines starts at 2 months of age.
After your baby is born visit Watch Me Grow Washington | Washington State Department of Health for newborn and child health and safety information.
After giving birth, your doctor or healthcare professional might recommend certain vaccines for you. Vaccination after pregnancy is especially important if you did not receive certain vaccines before or during pregnancy.
However, you will not get antibodies right away if you wait to get vaccinated until after birth. This is because it takes about 2 weeks after getting vaccinated before the body develops antibodies.
- Diseases and the Vaccines that Can Prevent Them
- Watch Me Grow Washington | Washington State Department of Health
- Immunizations at Every Age (wa.gov)
- Plain Talk about Childhood Immunizations (DOH)
- Adult Immunization Frequently Asked Questions | Washington State Department of Health
- Pregnancy and vaccination (PDF) (CDC)
- Pregnancy and Vaccines (DOH) | Spanish: Embarazo y Vacunación (DOH)
- Adult Vaccine Assessment Tool English Spanish
- Vaccines During and After Pregnancy | CDC
- Child and Adolescent Vaccine Assessment Tool (CDC)
- Why Do We Vaccinate? (Immunity Community)
- Vaccinations for pregnant women (Immunize.org)
- Vaccinations and pregnancy (March of Dimes)
- Vaccine Resources (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
- Vaccine considerations for new and expectant moms (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia)
- What Are Some Myths and Facts About Vaccination? (World Health Organization)
- Find a Local Health Department
If you need help finding a health care provider, or if you don't have health insurance, call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit ParentHelp123 website.