Vaccination and pregnancy: Before pregnancy
Vaccines you need before pregnancy
Before becoming pregnant, talk to your health care provider or local public health authority to make sure your vaccines are up to date.
Some vaccines are generally not recommended during pregnancy.
Live vaccines such as MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) and chicken pox (varicella) should be given at least 4 weeks before becoming pregnant.
MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine
Rubella in particular can be dangerous for you and your developing baby. A rubella infection during pregnancy can cause congenital rubella syndrome. This is a serious disease that can lead to major birth defects, miscarriage or stillbirth.
Learn more about:
Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
Chickenpox is a very common and highly infectious childhood disease. During pregnancy, it can lead to complications, such as pneumonia and even death. Your baby has a small chance of being born with congenital varicella syndrome if an infection occurs during the:
- first trimester of pregnancy or
- early second trimester of pregnancy
This can result in low birth weight and health issues affecting the baby's brain, skin, arms, legs and eyes. If a chickenpox rash happens shortly before or after your baby is born, the baby may get neonatal (newborn) varicella. This is a life-threatening condition.
Talk to your health care provider to find out if you're up to date with your chicken pox vaccination or if you had chickenpox disease in the past.
Learn more about chickenpox.
Hepatitis B vaccine
Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that infects the liver and can be transmitted to your baby during childbirth.
The hepatitis B vaccine may be recommended:
- if you're at higher risk of getting hepatitis B
- if you're at higher risk for severe disease if you get hepatitis B
- for an infant born to someone who has hepatitis B
Learn more about hepatitis B.
The flu vaccine is especially important for anyone who's pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This is because pregnancy puts you at higher risk of complications from the flu.
Learn more about the flu vaccine.
Your health care provider may recommend other vaccines in certain high-risk situations. For example:
- if you're travelling to an area where a disease is common
- if you've been exposed to a disease
- during an outbreak
- when indicated due to a health condition or other risk factors
All members of your household should be up to date on vaccinations. This can help protect the health of your baby and family.
Newborns can get very sick from the infections that vaccines prevent. For example, whooping cough (pertussis) is a life-threatening disease, particularly for babies.
Babies can't get some vaccines, like the measles vaccine, until they're a year old.
Don't be alarmed if you believe you received a vaccine not recommended during pregnancy before you knew you were pregnant. It's best to speak with your health care provider about any concerns.
- Adult vaccination
- Travel vaccination
- Whooping cough (pertussis)
- Vaccination and pregnancy (printable poster)
- Caring for Kids (Canadian Paediatric Society)
- Vaccine safety and possible side effects
- A Parent's Guide to Vaccination
- Immunize Canada
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