World Immunization Week will be held this year from April 24th-30th. This year’s global campaign focuses on closing the immunization gap and reaching equity in immunization levels by providing universal access to vaccines. Here in the United States, we are lucky to have access to life saving vaccines – many of which are covered by insurance.
Many routine immunizations are administered during childhood, and most women born in the United States should be protected against the most common infectious diseases including meningitis, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, HPV, and Polio. If you’re unsure whether you received all of the recommended vaccines, you should check your International Certificate of Vaccination, the “yellow book” where your physician will have documented immunization status. If for any reason you think you may have missed one of these important vaccinations, please schedule an appointment with your primary care provider in order to make sure you are fully protected.
Immunization is particularly important for women who are planning a pregnancy. Women who believe they may become pregnant should make sure they are up to date with routine adult vaccines. If required, live virus vaccines (MMR, Chickenpox) should be given at least one month before conception. During pregnancy women should receive the flu vaccine, if they haven’t already been vaccinated against this season’s strain. The inactivated flu vaccine is completely safe to receive at any point during pregnancy, and will not cause any harm to a developing fetus. The Tdap vaccine is also recommended for all pregnant women, and is generally given between 27 and 36 weeks gestation. While you may have received this vaccine during childhood, protection can wane over time, and a booster is recommended every 10 years. Additionally, by receiving this vaccine during the third trimester of pregnancy, some immunity is conveyed to your baby, providing them with protection during the first few months of their lives, before they can be vaccinated.
While infectious disease may seem like an outdated problem, or a concern that is only applicable to those in developing countries, recent outbreaks have shown that dangerous vaccine-preventable disease are just a plane ride away. Measles, an infectious disease that was once eliminated from the United States, reappeared this year in alarming numbers. Linked to an outbreak that started at Disneyland, more than 147 people in 7 states were reported to have measles, causing alarm among unvaccinated individuals and those with children who are too young to be vaccinated.
Vaccinations are one of our best defenses against infectious disease, and women should take every necessary measure to protect themselves and their family members against vaccine-preventable diseases. Talk to your physician at Golden Gate Obstetrics & Gynecology to learn more about the safety of vaccination before, during, and after pregnancy.
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