The Complete Guide to Vaccinations During Pregnancy
If you are currently pregnant, it is definitely a must that you get vaccinated. You won’t be excused from getting sick when you’re pregnant. In fact, pregnancy makes you more susceptible to illnesses and infections, which may then cause harm to you and your little one. This is why getting vaccinated is important; you’d want to prevent those illnesses from taking over your immune system. Moreover, once you are vaccinated, you will likely pass your antibodies to your child as soon as it’s born, making him or her immune to that infection. This will greatly help in your child’s early days, as it would still take a while before he or she is allowed to get certain vaccinations.
In this article, let us share with you everything you need to know when it comes to vaccinations when you are pregnant. Read until the end and we will also share a vaccination schedule for your infant!
This post was last updated on 23 January 2023.
Which vaccines are recommended to take when you are pregnant?
The Ministry of Health Singapore strongly recommends the following vaccines*during pregnancy:
*These are in line with international guideline recommendations from the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries.
1. Flu (influenza) shot.
- Influenza is a highly infectious respiratory illness that is quite common in Singapore so getting vaccinated for it is definitely a must.
- Common symptoms include fever, headache, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue.
- For the unborn baby, influenza may increase the risk of certain birth defects, congenital abnormalities and obstetric complications (i.e. preterm delivery, low birth weight and fetal death). Likewise, infected infants may be hospitalized for longer periods of time, and worse – knock on wood – may even die.
When to get the vaccine: Influenza vaccine is safe to take all throughout your pregnancy. It is administered as a single dose (to be updated yearly).
2. Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.
- Pertussis, also known as whopping cough, is another highly contagious respiratory illness that is usually via coughing, sneezing, or just close contact.
- The primary aim of this vaccine is to also protect your baby once it’s born since infants are usually at high risk for this illness. Infected infants may suffer from pneumonia, apnoea, encephalopathy, and even death.
When to get the vaccine: Ideally, the vaccine should be taken between the 16th to 32nd week of each pregnancy. It is administered in single dose intramuscularly, preferably at the deltoid area,
3. COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots.
- COVID-19 can also be detrimental to you and your baby, so make sure that your vaccine against it is updated. Click here to check if your COVID-19 vaccine is up-to-date.
Of course, pregnancy vaccinations may vary from one mum to another. That being said, it is important that you discuss vaccinations first with your gynae. If you are at high risk of other infections, your doctor might ask you to take other vaccines such as the hepatitis B vaccine.
Do I need to worry about vaccine side effects?
Pregnancy vaccinations, just like normal medication, may cause certain side effects. These include:
- mild fever
- redness and swelling on site of injection
- pain and muscle aches
Most pregnant women experience little to no side effects. The benefits that you can get from vaccines simply outweigh the risk of side effects. Also, there is a very slim chance for an allergic reaction to occur. But in case you still have concerns about getting vaccinated, please do not hesitate to voice out your concerns to your doctor.
Which vaccines are NOT recommended to take when you are pregnant?
Pregnant women should not receive certain vaccines, including:
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
- Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
- Live influenza (nasal spray) vaccine
- Certain travel vaccinations: Anthrax, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, etc.
You cannot get these vaccinations when you are pregnant because they are live vaccines, which means that they contain a small amount of weakened live virus. Live vaccines may pose risk to pregnant women as the virus could cross the placenta and infect the fetus. This could then lead to miscarriage or risk for preterm delivery.
Since you will still need to be protected from the above illnesses (i.e. measles, chickenpox, etc.) while pregnant, it is best if you already get vaccinated against them before pregnancy.
Fast forward to when you give birth. Newborns are not protected against ALL illnesses, even if you are vaccinated, because your antibodies can only do so much. And so, they must also take a lot of vaccinations to prevent them from catching any disease. Sharing below a summary of the vaccination schedule for infants.
Vaccination Schedule for Infants
- Birth: Hep B (Hepatitis B) 1st dose and BCG (bacillus Calmette-Guerin)
- 1 month: Hep B 2nd dose
- 3 months: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis-polio (DTP-Polio) 1st dose
- 4 months: DTP-polio 2nd dose
- 5 months: DTP-polio 3rd dose
- 6 months: Hep B 3rd dose
- 12-24 months: MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and VAR (varicella)
- 18 months: DTP-polio and Hep B1st booster
For the full list, please refer to the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) for the vaccinations recommended for children 0-17 years old.
Will my baby experience vaccine side effects?
In most cases, infants who are vaccinated experience redness, swelling, and tenderness over the injection site, which should clear after a few days. To help soothe your baby, you can put a clean cold cloth on the area for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Your baby might feel a little bit sore and/or get a slight fever for a day or two after the injection. There are also babies that got a mild cough, runny nose, skin rash, and swollen salivary glands 2-3 weeks after the MMR vaccine. Be sure to contact your doctor if you notice anything unusual with your child.
Where can I get my baby vaccinated?
Your baby will start getting their vaccinations before you leave the hospital. After that, you will need to visit your baby’s paediatrician so they can run through the immunisation schedule with you. You may opt to get your baby vaccinated there (or any other clinic), but the most economic option would be getting vaccinated at a polyclinic. Most vaccines at polyclinics are FREE (except for a few others) because they are subsidised by NCIS. You can click here for a list of polyclinics in Singapore.
We hope that our Complete Guide to Vaccinations During Pregnancy will help you out in your journey as an expecting mum. If you found this useful, please share it with your friends and family!
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