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Should You Get Vaccines While Pregnant?

Vaccines are a controversial issue among parents Ė even parents-to-be. Some parents believe vaccines are essential to protect all children from disease, while other parents believe that vaccines can cause more harm than good. Wherever you fall on the issues of vaccination for your child or children, you also have to decide whether or not you should get any vaccines while youíre pregnant.

If you arenít yet pregnant, do your research and talk with your health care provider before you become pregnant. If youíre missing any vaccinations and want to take them, itís best to get them before you become pregnant. Allow about one month after the vaccinations before you begin trying to conceive. If you arenít missing any regular vaccinations, you may still want to talk to your doctor about new vaccinations that have become available, such as the Gardasil vaccine, or vaccines that are new every year, such as the yearly vaccine against the flu.

The question about whether not a vaccine is safe to take during pregnancy is essentially based on what kind of vaccine is being given. Vaccines can be made from live but weakened viruses, killed viruses or from bacterial toxins. The goal with any of these is to expose your immune system to an infective agent so that it can make the appropriate defensive antibodies without you having to actually have the diseases.

Vaccines that use live viruses include the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella vaccine) and the chicken pox vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that pregnant women not take these vaccines because of the risk of contracting the disease from the live virus. In addition, both chicken pox and rubella can cause harm to an unborn baby. If you havenít had these diseases before becoming pregnant, you should do all you can to avoid contracting them while pregnant. This means avoiding persons who may have these diseases, as well as avoiding persons who have just been vaccinated for these diseases. If you are planning on getting pregnant soon, it is important to go ahead and make an appointment with your doctor to get your vaccine at your earliest convenience. If you are already pregnant and did not get the vaccine, it is still important that your partner and other caregivers get the vaccine. This is because they can still get sick and pass it on to you and your baby.

At present, the flu or influenza vaccine is made from killed viruses. These vaccines are safe to take during pregnancy should you so desire. As a point of interest, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that women who are pregnant during flu season take the flu vaccine because pregnancy increases the likelihood that if they contract the flu, theyíll develop complications.

Finally, a vaccination against tetanus, diptheria and pertussis (whooping cough), is usually given as a single injection called the DTaP. The pertussis part of the vaccine shouldnít be taken during pregnancy as there is limited information regarding its safety. However, the tetanus and diptheria components are safe to take as a separate booster shot. If you need a tetanus booster shot during pregnancy, donít worry Ė itís generally considered safe as well. If you do have any concerns about your vaccinations, itís best to address these before you begin trying to conceive.

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