Vaccines keep us healthy

August 4, 2021

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. During this time, we highlight why vaccines are so important to our health and wellbeing, and how they keep us safe from diseases. There’s a lot of information out there about this topic, and it can be overwhelming and hard to know what’s true and not true. Below we’ve listed 3 important things you need to know about vaccines:

  • Vaccines help protect you from diseases, but during pregnancy you also pass this protection to your baby. That’s why if you’re pregnant, or planning to get pregnant, being up-to-date on all of your vaccinations is so important.
  • Vaccines are very safe. They are carefully tested and checked by scientists and health care professionals before anyone can get them.
  • Many of the diseases that vaccinations help prevent once infected and killed many children in this country. Because of vaccinations, most people don’t get these diseases any more.

Most adults in the U.S. received vaccines during childhood. If you’re not sure about what vaccinations you’ve had, talk to your health care provider. In most cases, your provider can do blood tests to find out what vaccinations you need. If you’re planning to get pregnant, you can ask your provider to do this test during your preconception checkup.

Vaccines during and after pregnancy

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two vaccines during pregnancy:

  • Flu—A flu shot during pregnancy protects you from serious complications and protects your baby for several months after birth.  
  • Whooping cough (or Tdap)—When you get the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, your body makes antibodies and you pass some of them to your baby before birth. These antibodies give your baby some short-term, early protection against whooping cough.
  • COVID-19—The COVID-19 vaccine gives the cells in your body instructions that teach your immune system how to recognize and fight the COVID-19 virus. The vaccine can help prevent serious illness if you do get the virus. According to the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), pregnant and breastfeeding people may choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to them.

If you weren’t able to get caught up on vaccinations before pregnancy, or missed any while you were pregnant, do it after your baby’s born. This can help protect you from diseases in future pregnancies.

Vaccines and your baby

Vaccinations protect your baby from 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday. Most babies, including preterm and low-birth weight babies, can follow the vaccination schedule from the CDC. Ask your baby’s provider if this schedule is right for your baby.

If your baby has a health condition, travels outside the U.S. or has contact with someone who has a disease, the provider may recommend a different schedule.

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