February 7, 2013

Why Vaccinate?

Most Americans are immunized during childhood. As adults, we assume that this immunization carries into adulthood. Often women are unaware of immunization status prior to attempting pregnancy and to conception. Ideally, all inquiries and immunizations should be completed prior to conception as some vaccinations may not be administered to a pregnant woman. Importantly, immunization is conferred from mother to fetus; not only is this vertical transmission provided but the mother also may provide passive immunity (her antibodies are transferred to the newborn). Pregnancy is an amazing and dynamic state. In anticipation of delivery, the maternal immune system creates and delivers a surge of protective antibodies to the fetus occurring during the last month to six weeks of pregnancy.

It is a misnomer that immunization during pregnancy promotes both spontaneous abortion or congenital anomalies. Despite the clear lack of data, the misnomer persists. There are only three vaccinations that are contraindicated during pregnancy. They are herpes zoster, MMR and varicella vaccinations. All other vaccinations are generally recommended; and in fact indicated when benefits exceed risks.

It is recommended that women seeking pregnancy or fertility care demonstrate immunity prior to attempting conception. If a woman is not immune, the MMR and varicella vaccines should be administered and pregnancy avoided for only one month.

Both influenza (flu) and Tetanus vaccine (the stepping on the rusty-nail vaccine) should be completed prior to pregnancy. However, they can be administered safely during pregnancy. Influenza vaccine can be administered throughout the pregnancy course from first trimester through the duration. The tetanus vaccine preferably is given during the late second trimester or third trimester. Obviously, the situation prevails and should be discussed with the physician team.

In specific circumstances, non-routine vaccinations may be administered. Varicella, pneumococous (pneumonia), Hepatitis A and B as well as meningococcus ( bacterial meningitis) if indicated because of potential exposure are best administered prior to pregnancy attempts. However, pregnancy is not an exclusion for vaccination and each case should be discussed on individual basis.

Healthy mothers make healthy babies; Immune mother confer protection to their newborns.

Have more questions? Contact us today! 

Tags: , , , ,
Danielle Vitiello, Ph.D., M.D.

Danielle Vitiello, Ph.D., M.D. Board-Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility