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Family / Health / Lifestyle / Motherhood / Parenting

Most Pregnant Women Aren’t Getting Two Critical Vaccines, CDC Warns

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Most every expectant mom’s priority is to keep herself and her baby as healthy as possible, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 in 3 moms-to-be are actually getting two vaccines that experts say are critical during pregnancy.

Doctors recommend that pregnant women receive the flu shot and the Tdap vaccine, which protects against pertussis, a contagious respiratory illness more commonly known as whooping cough. The report found that while 55 percent of pregnant women get their Tdap vaccine and 54 percent get their flu shot, just 35 percent get both.

Why are those two vaccines considered so important for expectant moms? The CDC says the flu vaccine decreases the risk of influenza-related hospitalization by about 40 percent in pregnant women and 72 percent in babies younger than 6 months. That’s because when you get the vaccine, you build up antibodies that are then transferred to your growing baby and can help protect them after birth, until they’re old enough to get the vaccine themselves. Similarly, the Tdap vaccine decreases the risk of whooping cough in babies younger than 2 months by 78 percent and their associated hospitalization risk by 91 percent.

“Influenza and pertussis, or whooping cough, are serious infections that can be deadly for babies, especially for those who are too young to be vaccinated directly,” Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director of the CDC, told The New York Times. “We are stressing the importance of two safe and effective vaccines for pregnant women and the risks to both women and their babies when these vaccines are not given during pregnancy.”

According to the CDC’s recommendation, pregnant women can get the flu shot at any point during their pregnancy and the TDAP early in their third trimester.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to vaccines, and it can be hard for expectant parents to cut through the noise and make a decision that’s right for them and their family. That’s why the CDC urges all moms-to-be to speak with their prenatal care provider.

“Obstetricians and midwives are on the front line of care for expectant mothers and are the most trusted source of vaccine information for their pregnant patients,” Amanda Cohn, MD, chief medical officer in CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a press release. “We encourage them to start discussing the importance of maternal vaccination early in pregnancy, and continue vaccination discussions with their patients throughout pregnancy.”

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