Pregnancy and Vaccinations FAQ


General Questions

Where can I get vaccinated?

Check with your healthcare provider or a local pharmacy to see if they offer vaccinations. 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 .

What do vaccines for adults cost?

Vaccines are often covered by insurance. If you are uninsured, Washington state provides vaccines at no cost. You can look at the WA Department of Health map to find providers who can offer vaccines at no cost:

If you have a private health care plan: Most health insurance plans have preventive services coverage that includes vaccines. However, some people may have co-payments (fee) or other costs. Check with your doctor or clinic and your health insurance plan to determine your costs.

If you have Medicaid/Apple Health: Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) clients can get vaccines from their primary care provider, pharmacy, or local health department. See the list of covered vaccines on the Washington State Health Care Authority website. This service isn't available for those in the Take Charge or Family Planning Only and the Alien Emergency Medical Only programs.

If you have Medicare: Medicare covers preventive services, including vaccines. Part B covers some vaccines (flu, hepatitis B and pneumococcal shots); Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D) cover the rest (like the Tdap and MMR shot). Medicare covers COVID-19 shots as well as booster shots. Contact your Medicare drug plan for more information about coverage.

If you are uninsured: The Washington State Adult Vaccine Program (AVP) provides vaccines for adults 19 years of age and older who are uninsured or underinsured. This program is federally funded. The vaccines offered may change from year to year. Check with any healthcare provider to see if they participate in the program or go to the Department of Health map to find providers who participate in this program.

Where can I find my vaccination records?

There are a few ways you can access your family's immunization information:

Visit Access your Family's Immunization Information | Washington State Department of Health for more information.

What vaccinations are not recommended during pregnancy?

These are some of the vaccinations that are not recommended during pregnancy:

If you had any of these vaccinations before you knew you were pregnant, tell your provider.

  • Varicella
  • Zoster (Shingles)
  • BCG (Tuberculosis)
Can I wait until after pregnancy to get vaccinated?

The best way to protect you and you baby is to get vaccinated before and during pregnancy. If that is not possible, get vaccinated after your pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about which vaccines you should get and when.

Do breast/chest fed babies need to be vaccinated?

Yes. Despite the known benefits of breast/chest feeding, such as greater protection against some colds, ear infections, and diarrhea, breast/chest feeding does not prevent vaccine-preventable diseases. Unlike vaccines, breast/chest feeding does not stimulate the infant's immune system to produce the antibodies needed to fight some specific diseases. Fortunately, vaccines do not interfere with the beneficial immunity gained from breast/chest feeding, just as breast/chest feeding does not hinder the effectiveness of vaccines. Newborn babies often have immunity to some diseases because they have antibodies from the womb. These antibodies are temporary. By getting immunized, children can stay immune to many diseases.

Vaccine Safety and Pregnancy

Are vaccines safe during pregnancy?

Certain vaccines are safe and recommended before, during, and after pregnancy to help keep you and your baby healthy. The antibodies you develop in response to these vaccines not only protect you, but also cross the placenta and help protect your baby from serious diseases early in life. Vaccinating during pregnancy also helps protect you from getting a serious disease and giving it to your newborn. Some vaccines are not recommended during pregnancy. More information: Flu Vaccine Safety and Pregnancy | CDC

Are vaccines safe if I am breast/chest feeding?

Yes. It is safe to receive routine vaccines right after giving birth, even while you are breast/chest feeding. However, yellow fever vaccine is not recommended for people who are breast/chest feeding unless travel to certain countries is unavoidable and a healthcare provider determines that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. Talk with your provider if you are considering yellow fever vaccine.

Can a vaccine harm my developing baby?

Some vaccines, especially live vaccines, should not be given to pregnant people because they may be harmful to your baby. Vaccines for pregnant people are developed with the highest safety standards. If you have questions about a specific vaccine, talk with your healthcare provider.

Do vaccines cause autism?

No. Vaccines do not cause autism. Some people have had concerns that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) might be linked to the vaccines children receive, but studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing ASD.

Should I get COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccines protect you from getting very sick and possibly going into the hospital. If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant, you are more likely to get very sick from COVID-`9 compared to people who are not pregnant. Also, if you have COVID-19 during pregnancy, you are at more risk of complications that can affect your pregnancy and your baby. Getting vaccinated during pregnancy builds antibodies that can help protect your baby.

Is COVID-19 vaccine safe if I’m pregnant?

There are many systems in place to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe. There are no concerns about safety with COVID-19 vaccines when given during pregnancy. COVID-19 vaccine can reduce the risk of a severe illness for people who are pregnant. Visit the CDC webpage for more information:

Can COVID-19 vaccine cause a miscarriage?


What is Thimerosal? Why should I know about it?

Thimerosal is a preservative that has been used in some vaccines since the 1940s. It keeps vaccines from becoming contaminated, which may cause severe reactions, serious illness, or death. Thimerosal is only necessary as a preservative for some vaccines that come in multi-dose vials, which contain more than one dose of vaccine.

Thimerosal is safe in the doses found in vaccines and is easily eliminated naturally from the body. However, as a precautionary measure, Washington has a law that children under 3 years old and pregnant people cannot receive any vaccine containing more than a trace amount of thimerosal.

If you are pregnant, ask your provider or pharmacist if they are giving you a flu vaccine from a single dose (or single use) vial instead of a vial used for multiple people.  Pregnant people are not recommended to receive nasal spray flu vaccine because it is a live vaccine.

Thimerosal and Vaccines | Vaccine Safety | CDC

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)

Should pregnant people get the MMR vaccine?

No. Pregnant people should not get the MMR vaccine. Pregnant people who need the vaccine should wait until after giving birth. People should avoid getting pregnant for four weeks after getting the MMR vaccine.

Should new parents and caregivers get the MMR vaccine?

If parents or caregivers haven't gotten the MMR vaccine or had measles in the past, they should get vaccinated. It's important to make sure people who are around your new baby do not expose your baby to measles – and other diseases like whooping cough – that your baby is too young to be vaccinated against. This includes siblings, who should also be up-to-date on all their childhood vaccines for their own protection and to protect the baby.

How soon can a new baby get the MMR vaccine?

Babies should get their first of two doses of MMR at 12-15 months of age. The second dose, usually given at 4-6 years, will provide full protection for your child.

If you plan to travel out of the country with a baby who is between six and 11 months old, your baby should get a dose of MMR before traveling. Your child will also still need the two regular doses at 12-15 months and 4-6 years

Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Tdap)

Why should pregnant people get vaccinated against whooping cough (Tdap vaccine)?

Getting vaccinated while pregnant helps your baby get some short-term protection from your vaccination because you pass antibodies to them before they are born. You also reduce the risk of getting whooping cough yourself and exposing your newborn to the infection.

Why should pregnant people get vaccinated during each pregnancy?

A pregnant person passes some protection to the baby before they are born. Protection from whooping cough is most effective within the first year after receiving the vaccine. Whooping cough can be serious for infants, and most get it from parents, siblings, or caregivers. Getting the pregnant person vaccinated at each pregnancy provides the best protection for each baby.

If I recently gave birth, can I get the whooping cough vaccine?

Yes. If you just gave birth and have never received Tdap or didn’t get the vaccine during pregnancy (the adolescent and adult whooping cough vaccine), you should get it right away. Your baby is vulnerable to whooping cough because babies are too young to be vaccinated until about two months of age and aren't fully protected until after the first four doses of the DTaP vaccine (given at 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months of age). Your child will also need a fifth dose of DTaP vaccine between age four and six years.

Whooping cough is very serious for babies and young children, and the most common way for them to get it is from parents, caregivers, and other family members. The best way to protect your baby is to get the vaccine and make sure your other children are vaccinated on time.

Can I get the whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) if I'm breast/chest feeding?

Yes. It is safe to get Tdap while you're breast/chest feeding. If you're breast/chest feeding and you haven't received Tdap as an adult, you should get it right away.

Can I get the whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) if I'm breast/chest feeding?

Partially. People vaccinated with Tdap may pass some whooping cough antibodies to their babies through breast/chest milk, but it does not provide full protection. It is still important to protect a baby who is still too young to be vaccinated by limiting their exposure to whooping cough. Ask people who are sick to stay away and make sure you and everyone who is around your baby is vaccinated. Then, as soon as your baby is old enough, get them vaccinated by following the recommended immunization schedule (PDF).

Flu (Influenza)

Why do I need a flu shot during pregnancy?

Normal changes in your immune system during pregnancy may increase your risk of flu complications. The flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu for you and your baby. Pregnant people are at high risk for severe illness, hospitalization, and death if they get the flu. If you get the flu while pregnant it can also cause serious problems for your baby including premature labor and birth defects.

Studies show that getting a flu shot while pregnant can help protect your baby from the flu for up to six months after birth. Breast/chest feeding after the baby is born helps strengthen their immune system but is not a replacement for getting vaccinated.

When should I get the flu vaccine?

Get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available in your area. The flu vaccine (PDF) (CDC) is proven safe, effective, and beneficial to you and your baby at any stage of pregnancy.

When you get a flu vaccine during pregnancy, you make antibodies which are passed to your baby. These antibodies protect your baby against the flu until they can get the vaccine at 6 months of age. Breast/chest feeding your baby also helps strengthen their immune system but is not a replacement for getting vaccinated.

It is equally important that other people in your household are vaccinated against the flu during your pregnancy.

I am already pregnant. Is it safe to get the flu shot?

Yes. It is safe to get the flu vaccine at any stage before, during or after pregnancy. Flu vaccine has been given to millions of pregnant people for many years and has been shown to be safe. Flu vaccine reduces the risk of serious illness and hospital stays.

You should also get the whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) during the 3rd trimester of each pregnancy. Check with your doctor, nurse, or clinic about which vaccines you may need. For more information visit our whooping cough vaccine page.

When can my baby get a flu vaccine?

Babies can get flu vaccine starting at 6 months of age, so it is important that your household get vaccinated to help protect your baby until that time. Children under 9 years old may need two doses every year for best protection. Check with your doctor, nurse or clinic about other recommended vaccines (CDC) your children may need.

Can I get the flu from the flu vaccine?

No. The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. However, it takes about 2 weeks after you get the vaccine for the antibodies to protect you against the flu virus. During those two weeks, it is possible to catch the flu from another person.

Can I get a preservative-free flu vaccine?

Yes. Preservative-free flu vaccines are available. Washington state law requires that pregnant people and kids under age three be given vaccines that are preservative-free (or thimerosal-free). For more information, visit the CDC's Frequently Asked Questions About Thimerosal (Ethylmercury) page.

Is there a flu vaccine that pregnant people should NOT get?

Nasal spray vaccine (also called FluMist) is not recommended for pregnant people. Check with your healthcare provider to explore the best option for you.

How serious is getting the flu while pregnant?

The flu shot is the most effective way to prevent infection, but there is still a chance you could get sick. If you have flu symptoms, stay away from others, and contact your healthcare provider immediately. Your doctor should prescribe antiviral medication (PDF) (CDC) if you are suspected of having the flu.

If you get the flu while you are pregnant, you have a higher risk of complications like preterm labor and preterm birth. You are also more likely to be hospitalized and have a higher risk of dying if you get the flu while you are pregnant. For more information, visit the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists flu and pregnancy page.

What else can I do to protect myself from getting the flu?

Ask family, friends and caregivers who spend time with you and your baby to get a flu vaccine every year to best protect your household. In addition, follow these easy steps:

Cover your cough/sneeze with your sleeve or tissues Wash your hands with soap and warm water often Disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently shared (doorknobs, counters, faucets, etc.) Avoid frequent touching of your nose, mouth, and eyes Stay home from work or school if you show symptoms of being ill Wear a cloth face covering when you are out in public


Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant, breast/chest feeding or planning to become pregnant?


Yes. Data show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe during pregnancy and while you’re breast or chest feeding.  There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines affect your ability to get pregnant.

Can you get a COVID-19 vaccine with other vaccines?


Yes. You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including a flu vaccine, at the same visit.

Travel Vaccines

Traveling while pregnant

If you are traveling or plan to travel while pregnant, talk with your doctor or health care provider about which vaccines you may need. Check CDC’s destination pages to see what vaccines or medicines you may need and what diseases or health risks are a concern for your place of travel.

Make sure you are up-to-date on all of your routine vaccines. Routine vaccinations protect you from infectious diseases such as measles that can spread quickly in groups of unvaccinated people. Many diseases prevented by routine vaccination are not common in the United States but are still common in other countries.

Pregnant Travelers | Travelers' Health | CDC

Travel Vaccines to Protect Your Family | CDC

Need travel vaccines? Plan ahead. | Travelers' Health | CDC

Yellow Fever Vaccine, Pregnancy, & Conception (