Vaccines are an important part of a healthy pregnancy. They help protect you and your baby against serious diseases.

Some diseases are particularly harmful for pregnant women and their babies and can cause birth defects, premature birth, miscarriage and death. Many of these diseases can be prevented through vaccination.

It’s important to know which vaccines you need before, during, and after pregnancy.

Before pregnancy

It’s best to make sure all of your routine vaccines are up to date before becoming pregnant. This is important because some vaccines cannot be given during pregnancy but provide important protection. For example, the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine should not be given during pregnancy, but rubella infection during pregnancy can cause miscarriage and serious birth defects. If you are planning to become pregnant, talk to your health care provider about vaccines you may need.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that everyone in your household is up to date with their vaccines. This will help protect your baby by lowering the chance of household members getting a disease and passing it onto your baby. This is especially important because babies don’t start getting vaccines until they are two months old and most vaccines require more than one dose. This means that newborn babies are especially vulnerable to disease. Even though you may not be able to receive certain vaccines while pregnant, it is safe for others in your household to receive routine vaccines during your pregnancy.

Flu Shots During Pregnancy

During pregnancy

Vaccines recommended during pregnancy:

The influenza (flu) vaccine is recommended for all women who are pregnant during the influenza season. Pregnant women are at increased risk of serious illness from influenza, especially in their third trimester.

Pregnant women should receive the inactivated influenza vaccine (given by injection). This vaccine is safe for pregnant women. The live-attenuated influenza vaccine (given as a nasal spray) should not be given during pregnancy, as it has not been proven to be safe.

Vaccines that may be recommended during pregnancy:

In certain situations, other vaccines may be recommended during pregnancy. 

Some examples:

  • The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for pregnant women whose job, lifestyle or health history puts them at high risk of becoming infected with hepatitis B. Your health care provider will let you know if you need the hepatitis B vaccine.
  • The hepatitis A, meningococcal, and polio vaccines may be recommended for pregnant women travelling to areas of the world where these diseases are common. Tell your health care provider if you are travelling outside Canada during your pregnancy.
  • The tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine may be recommended for pregnant women at 26 weeks of pregnancy or later who have not received a dose of pertussis-containing vaccine in adulthood. This dose is not routinely provided for free in B.C. Speak to your health care provider about this. 

Safety of vaccines during pregnancy

Inactivated vaccines are generally safe in pregnancy. However, live vaccines (for example, the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and the chickenpox (varicella) vaccines) should generally not be given during pregnancy because they have not been proven to be safe for pregnant women and their babies. 

Your health care provider can tell you which vaccines are recommended for you and which vaccines are safe to get during pregnancy.

After pregnancy

If you didn’t catch up on certain vaccines before or during your pregnancy, it’s important that you get them as soon as possible after your baby is born. This will help protect you and your baby, by lowering the chance of you getting a vaccine-preventable disease and passing it onto your baby. It will also ensure you’re protected in future pregnancies. It’s safe to receive vaccines right after birth, even if you are breastfeeding.