Vaccination During Pregnancy

Normally, vaccines are used to prevent diseases and infections. However, there are some theoretical risk with regards to its effects on a pregnant woman and the unborn child.

Effects of vaccines on pregnant women

At present, the risk to a developing fetus from vaccinating a mother during pregnancy is still primarily theoretical. Live vaccines pose a theoretical threat to the unborn child. But there is still no evidence of risk of vaccinating pregnant women, whether be it with inactivated virus, bacterial vaccines or toxoids.

The benefits of getting vaccinated usually outweigh the potential risks, when there’s a high possibility of developing a disease, when infection poses a risk to both the mother and the fetus, and when the vaccine is unlikely to cause harm. Live-virus vaccines are generally contraindicated because the theoretical risk of transmitting the vaccine virus to the fetus.

Theoretical risk effects

When a pregnant woman is vaccinated or if a woman is vaccinated and became pregnant even a month prior to pregnancy, the theoretical risk is that the vaccines may cause birth defects like those that occur from chickenpox.

These birth defects include: limb abnormalities including absence or underdevelopment; abnormal brain development; mental retardation; scarring of the skin; eye abnormalities.

In cases where a pregnant women is administered vaccines or if a woman later becomes after having been vaccinated recently, she should seek counseling to know the potential effects of the virus on the fetus.

However, vaccination is not an indication to terminate pregnancy. Regardless of the type of vaccine used, vaccination of pregnant women should be considered on the basis of risks versus benefits