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Vaccines during pregnancy: Are they safe?

Which vaccines during pregnancy are recommended and which ones should I stay away from?

Updated: 2024-02-27

Answer Section

In general, vaccines that contain killed viruses, also called inactivated viruses, can be given during pregnancy. Vaccines that contain live viruses aren't recommended during pregnancy.

Vaccines that are safe and recommended during pregnancy include:

  • Flu shot. This also is called the influenza vaccine. It's recommended for people who are pregnant during flu season. The flu shot is made from a killed virus, so it's safe for both you and your baby. Do not get the influenza nasal spray vaccine. It is made from a live virus.
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine. This also is called Tdap. One dose of Tdap vaccine is recommended during each pregnancy. That's true no matter when you had your last Tdap vaccination. Getting the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy helps protect your newborn from whooping cough, also called pertussis. Aim to get the vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.
  • COVID-19 vaccine. Whether or not you've been vaccinated for COVID-19 in the past, an updated COVID-19 vaccine is recommended and safe in pregnancy. Studies have shown COVID-19 vaccines don't pose any serious risks for people who are pregnant or their babies.

    If you become pregnant after getting the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses, it's recommended that you get your second shot. It's also recommended that pregnant people receive a COVID-19 booster shot when it's time. If possible, people who live with you also should be vaccinated against COVID-19. This helps prevent the spread of disease.

  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine. RSV is another virus that spreads easily and can be dangerous for babies. The RSV vaccine Abrysvo is recommended if you're 32 to 36 weeks pregnant during the fall and winter. That's because the virus spreads mainly during this time.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine, the flu shot, the RSV vaccine and the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy can protect you from infection. These vaccines also help protect your newborn after birth before your baby can be vaccinated. This is important because babies under age 1 may have a higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19 than do older children. Also, the flu, RSV and whooping cough can be very dangerous for infants.

Your healthcare professional might recommend other vaccines during pregnancy if you're at higher risk of certain infections. For instance, some pregnant people need the hepatitis B vaccine.

Your healthcare professional likely will recommend that you not get vaccines that contain live viruses during pregnancy. Those types of vaccines might pose a risk to a developing baby. Examples of vaccines that contain live viruses and aren't recommended during pregnancy include:

  • Chickenpox vaccine, also called varicella vaccine.
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Although the shingles vaccine, called Shingrix, doesn't contain the live virus, it's recommended that pregnant people delay vaccination.

If you're planning a pregnancy, talk to your healthcare professional. Ask what vaccines you might need before you try to get pregnant.