Intermountain Health doctors say getting vaccines and immunizations during pregnancy helps mom’s body create antibodies that are passed along to the growing baby.
(PRUnderground) December 5th, 2023
Cold and flu season are here and news, and with it new immunizations and vaccines that are becoming available. It’s important to sort out what is recommended for our most vulnerable populations, which include people who are pregnant, and the babies they are carrying. Intermountain Health doctors say getting vaccines and immunizations during pregnancy helps the mom’s body create antibodies that are passed along to the growing baby that will help protect them during those first few, vulnerable months of life.
Babies can receive disease protection from their mom during pregnancy. Newborns do not yet have fully developed immune systems, making them particularly vulnerable to infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and the national professional associations of obstetricians and gynecologists currently recommend four vaccines or immunizations during pregnancy:
- Influenza (flu)
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
- The Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis combined vaccine (Tdap)
All of these respiratory infections (influenza, COVID-19, RSV which are caused by viruses; and Pertussis which is caused by bacteria), are dangerous for newborns and can cause hospitalization. Tragically some infants die each year from these infections.
“Pregnant women are recognized as a particularly vulnerable population who are more likely to experience severe complications, such as the need for intensive care and respiratory support, with many common illnesses including the flu or COVID. Due to this risk and the potential benefits to the newborn. Making sure to receive the appropriate vaccinations is critical during pregnancy,” said Dr. Sean Esplin, an OB/Gyn and maternal fetal medicine specialist and the senior medical director for women’s health at Intermountain Health.
It’s important to talk with your prenatal care provider to know what vaccines and immunizations are recommended for you, and when to get them. They know your medical history and can explain all the benefits and any risks.
Influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations can be given any time during pregnancy and are available now
Influenza vaccine is important to protect both mom and the baby from the flu. It can be given anytime throughout the pregnancy to make sure mom is protected. The 2023 Influenza immunizations are available now and it is recommended to get it in the fall. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to have its full effect.
It’s also recommended that the latest COVID -19 vaccine formulation be given now. The COVID vaccine is important to protect both the mom and the baby from serious illness from COVID-19.
The vaccine for whooping cough and the monoclonal immunization for RSV are recommended later in pregnancy
- The pertussis vaccine or Tdap is given to pregnant women primarily to protect the newborn infant from pertussis or whooping cough.
- Tdap protects the baby against pertussis (whooping cough). It is to be given between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.
- The RSV monoclonal infant immunization is given during pregnancy, primarily to protect the newborn infant.
- RSV vaccine protects the baby against respiratory syncytial virus. It is to be given between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.
- Most pregnant patients should be vaccinated for RSV from September through January if they are expected to deliver October through March, to provide protection for their baby throughout RSV season. Mothers of infants born outside RSV season may not need to be vaccinated, and the RSV monoclonal preventive immunization (nirsevimab) will be recommended for these infants.
The maternal RSV vaccine may be co-administered with other vaccines recommended for a healthy pregnancy and infant, including COVID-19, influenza, and Tdap.
The benefits of passive immunity
When these vaccines and immunizations are given to the mother late in their pregnancy, the mother provides passive immunity to the baby. This occurs because the mother produces protective antibodies that are transferred to the baby prior to birth and then the baby has those protective antibodies to help protect them for the first few months of their life.
Mothers have always provided this type of immunity to their newborns by producing antibodies to any harmful bugs they are exposed to that may be circulating during their pregnancy. This normal process of passive immunity is one reason why babies are not overwhelmed with infections as soon as they are born.
Anyone who is around a young baby needs to be up to date on vaccines at least two weeks prior to close contact with the baby
Newborns do not yet have fully developed immune systems, making them particularly vulnerable to infections. Older kids and adults can spread viruses to babies, even if they don’t feel very sick. Because of this, anyone who is around babies should be up to date on all recommended vaccines. This includes parents, siblings, and any other caregivers, like grandparents, or babysitters. Anyone who needs vaccines should get them at least two weeks before meeting the baby because it takes about two weeks to develop antibodies after vaccination.
About Intermountain Health
Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.
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Original Press Release.