Vaccinations in Pregnancy

Midwife and client with baby discuss vaccination

Although pregnancy is a healthy time in most people’s lives, exposure to vaccine-preventable illnesses, such as the flu or pertussis, is common.

Pregnant people are at increased risk for serious complications due to these illnesses. Although they represent 1% of the total population at any given time, a study of the 2009 H1N1 flu found they represented 6% of hospitalizations.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) currently recommends providing the flu vaccine (barring contraindications) during the flu season. As of 2018, NACI also recommends Tdap vaccination of all pregnant persons during every pregnancy as a means of protecting the infant

Recommendations around vaccinating pregnant travelers are dependent on a number of factors including: the destination, duration of travel, risk of contracting the disease, and the severity of the effect of the disease and/or the vaccine on the pregnant person and /or the fetus. For information on travel vaccinations, refer to Public Health Agency of Canada’s Statement on Pregnancy and Travel.  

Despite recommendations, vaccination uptake among gravidas is very low. Not surprisingly, the greatest concern clients have with vaccination are issues related to safety. The U.S.-based Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database supports the evaluation of vaccine safety. For example, when looking at the influenza vaccine, VAERS has data from 1990-2009 that includes more than 11 million gravidas and shows no increased rates of adverse pregnancy outcomes.  

 

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Pre-recorded webinar: Immunization in Pregnancy (coming soon to our online store!).

Presented by Dr. Mark H. Yudin, a staff physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.