By| Published: April 29th, 2017
The need for maternal immunization across the globe is continually on the rise. Pregnant women are susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases, increasing the chances of maternal mortality.
Immunization in this case, aims to eradicate and reduce the diseases there by increasing life expectancy.
How does vaccination help women in pregnancy?
Vaccines can help protect mother and baby from vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccinated mothers during pregnancy pass on protective antibodies (infection-fighting molecules) to their babies before they are born. This provides some immunity to the baby during their first few months of life, since it is not possible to vaccinate right after they are born.
All vaccines undergo safety tests that check for purity, potency and safety; and are government regulated. Vaccines are given to women given prior conception, during pregnancy and postpartum.
Vaccines before pregnancy: Women should be up-to-date on their routine adult vaccines when trying to conceive. This will help them and child during the pregnancy. It is suggestible to talk to a healthcare professional about the vaccine history before any decision making.
What vaccines to consider before pregnancy?
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine: This is a mandatory vaccine that women should consider before trying to conceive. Measles increase the chance of premature labour, while mumps cause the salivary glands to swell, leading to increased chances of miscarriage. Rubella infection during pregnancy can cause babies to have serious birth defects with devastating, lifelong consequences, and can sometimes result in death.
A pre-pregnancy blood test can help women determine their immunity to the disease. Women can check with their doctor if they were vaccinated as a child. If not, they can receive the MMR vaccine and only after a month or two from the date of vaccination, they can try conceiving.
Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, nausea, fatigue and jaundice. In some cases, it also leads to chronic liver diseases including cancer and death.
The unborn child is at risk if the mother-to-be is at risk of becoming infected with hepatitis B. It is recommended to get a Hepatitis B vaccination, before or during pregnancy after consulting with a healthcare professional.
What vaccines to consider during pregnancy?
Decades of scientific research and continuous monitoring shows that vaccines are safe for pregnant women and their babies. However, like any medication, they also can have side effects and usually are mild and reduce with time. Reported side effects include soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, muscle aches, fatigue, or fever. Below are the vaccines that can be considered during pregnancy:
Flu Vaccine: Pregnant women are recommended to get a flu vaccine during each of their pregnancy. The inactivated influenza (flu) vaccine (IIV) protects the mother and the baby, and can be given during any trimester of pregnancy. The vaccination will help pregnant women avoid flu that possibly can increase risk for serious complications such as premature labour and delivery. Flu vaccine can help reduce chances of the babies falling prey to flu is likely to cause serious flu-related complications such as pneumonia once they are born.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Vaccine: Pregnant women should also get the tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) during each pregnancy. The vaccine ideally is given in the early third trimester with an aim to protect young babies before they are old enough to get vaccinated themselves. Tdap also is recommended for other adults including the elderly who spend time with the young babies.
Zika and Pregnant Women:
Zika virus can spread from a pregnant woman to her baby and might cause serious birth defects, including Microcephaly, a condition where the head is abnormally small. The virus is spread through a mosquito bite or is transmitted sexually.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika. However, to avoid the disease, individuals can avoid travelling to areas with active Zika virus transmission, prevent mosquito bites and practice safe sex.
What vaccines to consider postpartum?
It is safe for women to receive vaccinations after giving birth and while breastfeeding. Recommended vaccines are:
Whooping cough: Mothers who have not received vaccine Tdap should consider immediate vaccination post-delivery. Family and others who are likely to spend time with the baby should also receive the vaccination.
MMR and chickenpox vaccine: The new mother who is not immune to measles, mumps and rubella and/or chickenpox (varicella) should consider being vaccinated before leaving the hospital.
There are rare cases of vaccination reaction. However, if the pregnant women are allergic to any substance, the healthcare specialists may request to skip the vaccine, offering alternative solutions to avoid infection transmission.
As public priority and to safeguard global citizens from the deadly diseases, the government and many non-government organizations work in tandem to offer vaccinations. For any concerns regarding vaccinations, it is recommended to consult a healthcare specialist.