As World Health Organisation (WHO) mentions in a report, vaccine-preventable infectious diseases have resulted in significant maternal neonatal and young infant morbidity and mortality. Changes in the body during pregnancy can also increase the severity of influenza. As per a 2012 study on pandemic influenza among pregnant women in Chennai, out of the 140 pregnant women interviewed, only 12.8 per cent had received vaccine for the same. The need of the hour is therefore to spread more awareness about getting vaccinated during pregnancy which can protect the mother and her baby too.
Dr Digant D Shastri, President, Indian Academy of Paediatrics, has answered questions related to vaccination during pregnancy.
Why is immunisation important for pregnant women?
Immunisation during pregnancy is an effective way to protect the mother and child from certain preventable infections. During pregnancy, there are immunological changes which makes the expecting mother more susceptible to certain infectious diseases, which increases the risk of more serious outcomes. Studies such as Vaccination during pregnancy: Today’s need in India, say that vaccination can protect the mother against vaccine-preventable infections, and in doing so, potentially protect the foetus as well. Immunisation during pregnancy can also directly protect the foetus via transferred of antibodies to it from the mother. And that’s why vaccinations during pregnancy are so important. Vaccination during pregnancy is a cost-effective strategy to improve the pregnancy outcome.
Is it safe to take vaccines during pregnancy?
One of the most common doubts that people have about vaccination during pregnancy is its safety. Is it safe to get vaccines during pregnancy? The answer is yes, it’s safe to get certain recommended vaccines during pregnancy. Research shows that whooping cough and flu vaccines help provide important disease protection for pregnant women as well as to the child. Similarly tetanus vaccination will prevent tetanus in the mother as well as neonatal tetanus in the newborn, while hepatitis b vaccine will prevent vertical transmission of b type of hepatitis infection. The experts closely monitor the safety of vaccines and like any medicine, vaccines can have side effects. But these side effects are usually mild and go away on their own.
What are the important vaccines?
We all know that under EPI (Expanded Progamme on Immunisation) program all pregnant women are vaccinated at least with Tetanus toxoid or tetanus and diphtheria toxoids ( Td). In the developed countries as well as in private hospitals in our country, various other useful vaccines are offered to pregnant women like Hepatitis B, Flu vaccine and Vaccine for prevention of whooping cough and diphtheria( Tdap).