Vaccinations for women

In today's era where we all understand that prevention of a disease is much better than cure, we need to be aware of the vaccines available for various diseases and when to take them. There are certain vaccines that should be taken when a woman is not pregnant, and certain that are safely taken/recommended in pregnancy.

The much talked about COVID vaccine is currently not recommended in pregnancy and breastfeeding in India at present due to lack of enough trials.

But women (if not planning pregnancy or pregnant of lactating) should consider taking

There are some vaccines recommended during pregnancy for all women. These are

Tetanus shot

The government of India recommends 2 doses of TT during pregnancy to prevent Neonatal tetanus for all pregnant women after the first trimester. The gap between the 2 doses should be at least 4 weeks.

T dap Vaccine

  • This is given to pregnant women in the third trimester to give immunity to both the mother and child against Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
  • This may replace the second dose of tetanus,as recommended in the NIP programme.
  • If Tdap is not administered during pregnancy, Tdap should be administered immediately postpartum.
  • Vaccination of family members is also done to protect the newborn (cocooning)

Influenza vaccination

  • Routine influenza vaccination is recommended for all above 6 months of age during influenza season (October - March)
  • It is given to pregnant women after the first trimester

Vaccination before getting pregnant

Ideally, women should be vaccinated against all preventable diseases before entering a pregnancy. The main vaccines they should consider, if not been vaccinated in childhood are MMR and chickenpox/varicella vaccine.

MMR contains the Rubella vaccination

  • All girls should receive the vaccine before planning pregnancy
  • Should avoid becoming pregnant until one month (28 days) after receiving the MMR vaccine and, ideally, not until your immunity is confirmed by a blood test.(CDC)

Varicella vaccine

  • Chicken pox in pregnancy could lead to many complications. Thus if a woman has not had chickenpox or its vaccine in childhood, they should take it before getting pregnant.
  • Since its a live vaccine, it is advised not to plan pregnancy for a month after the vaccine.

Women with sickle cell disease or splenectomy, Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended every 5 years, and also H influenzae, and Meningococcal vaccine is recommended as a single dose.

HPV Vaccine -It is a vaccine against cervical cancer and warts

  • The target age for vaccination is 11–12 years for girls and boys.
  • before age 15 years receive 2 doses of HPV vaccine 6 months apart
  • Bivalent, quadrivalent, and 9-valent vaccines are recommended for females aged 9–26 years and quadrivalent and 9-valent vaccines are recommended for males aged 9–26 years.
  • 9valent Human Papillomavirus Vaccine is recommended by ACIP. It has been licensed by the FDA in Dec 2014, but not available in India yet.
  • High efficacy for prevention of greater than or equal to CIN 2, VIN 2 or 3, and VAIN 2 or 3 due to HPV 31, 33, 45, 52, 58.
  • Antibody titer against HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18 was not reduced

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