Pregnant and Lactating Persons

Pregnancy causes certain changes to take place within your body that can affect your immune system, heart, and lungs. These changes can leave you more susceptible to catching some diseases, and to experiencing severe infection. If you catch certain communicable diseases while pregnant, such as rubella, the infection can be passed on to your baby, who may be born with conditions that will affect them for life. As well, there are other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough), that are most severe in children too young to be immunized. 

Getting vaccinated with recommended vaccines both before and during pregnancy will help give you and your baby the best protection possible against harmful vaccine-preventable diseases. 

Check out our resources and share with your network! 


Resources for Healthcare Professionals 

Pocket Guide for Immunizers

Pocket Guide for Immunizers: Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

(pocket guide – PDF: 2.0 MB)

Pocket Guide for Immunizers: Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

The purpose of this pocket guide is to
serve as a tool for health care providers to learn more about the administration of vaccines during pregnancy and
breastfeeding, enabling them to make strong recommendations to their patients.

This pocket guide references recommendations made in the Canadian Immunization Guide Chapter on Immunization in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and commentary made by expert reviewers.

Supplementary documents referenced in this guide also include:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Videos for Immunizers on How to Recommend Vaccines in Pregnancy

How to recommend vaccines to patients who are planning a pregnancy, with Dr. Anne Pham-Huy 

 

How to recommend vaccines to patients who are pregnant, with Dr. Anne Pham-Huy 

 

How to recommend the RSV vaccine for patients who are pregnant, with Dr. Anne Pham-Huy 

 

 

How to recommend vaccines for patients who are breastfeeding, with Dr. Anne Pham-Huy 

 

Toolkit: Improving vaccine confidence and uptake in pregnant Canadians

Improving vaccine confidence and uptake in pregnant Canadians: A toolkit for health professionals

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This toolkit provides health professionals (as well as community and patient groups) with evidence-based resources to support constructive dialogue and to help pregnant patients make informed choices about vaccination.

It offers direct, easy-to-understand answers expressed in non-technical language that meets the needs of a non-specialist audience, helping remove the need for health professionals to adapt complex evidence-based information into language that can be understood by their patients. Overall, this toolkit gives health professionals clear messaging that they can rely on when discussing issues on vaccination in pregnancy with their patients one on one.  

Share your comments on the toolkit

 

Resources for the Public

Factsheets and Infographic on Vaccines in Pregnancy 

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 756 KB)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

Influenza vaccines in pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 508 KB)

Influenza vaccines in pregnancy: What you need to know

Pertussis vaccines in pregnancy

(infographic – PDF: 758 KB)

Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines in pregnancy

**A COVID-19 vaccine is recommended in pregnancy and particularly for those with additional risk factors for severe COVID-19 disease. Administration should consider the timing of last dose provided. We encourage pregnant individuals to speak with their healthcare professional for more information.

"Vaccines in Pregnancy" factsheet in multiple languages

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 521 KB) – Arabic

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Arabic)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 684 KB) – Cantonese

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Cantonese)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 466 KB) – Farsi

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Farsi)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 692 KB) – Korean

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Korean)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 838 KB) – Mandarin

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Mandarin)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 447 KB) – Punjabi

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Punjabi)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 414 KB) – Russian

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Russian)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 456 KB) – Spanish

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Spanish)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 391 KB) – Tagalog

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Tagalog)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 459 KB) – Ukrainian

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Ukrainian)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 615 KB) – Urdu

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Urdu)

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know

(factsheet – PDF: 691 KB) – Vietnamese

Vaccines in Pregnancy: What you need to know (factsheet in Vietnamese)

 

Video Shorts about Vaccines in Pregnancy

Vaccines before pregnancy 

Planning a pregnancy? There are two vaccines recommended for every person who is planning to get pregnant that cannot be given during pregnancy– the MMR vaccine, to protect against rubella, and the varicella, or chickenpox, vaccine. 
 

 

Vaccines during pregnancy
 

Pregnant? If so, there are three vaccines that you should consider getting – the Tdap vaccine, to protect against pertussis (also known as whooping cough), the COVID-19 vaccine, and the influenza (or flu) vaccine. In fact, these vaccines are recommended in every pregnancy, as they allow you to pass on some short-term protection to your newborn, who is too young to be immunized against pertussis, COVID-19, and the flu.

 

Posters on Vaccines in Pregnancy 

Pertussis. Contagious. Preventable.

(poster – PDF: 1.4 MB)

Pertussis. Contagious. Preventable - poster about pertussis (whooping cough) immunization in pregnancy

Who should get immunized against pertussis (whooping cough)?

(poster – PDF: 139 KB)

Who should get immunized against pertussis (whooping cough)?

Pregnant or planning a pregnancy? (RSV immunization)

(poster – PDF: 3.6 MB)

Pregnant or planning a pregnancy?

Did you know? (RSV immunization)

(poster – PDF: 3.0 MB)

Did you know? Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) immunization during pregnancy

 

 

 

Questions and Answers on Vaccines in Pregnancy

Is immunization safe during pregnancy?

Yes! There are three vaccines recommended during every pregnancy, and all three vaccines have a good safety record. There is no evidence that these vaccines harm the pregnant parent or baby. These vaccines are:

  • 1. the influenza (flu) vaccine (see our factsheet on influenza vaccines in pregnancy)
  • 2. the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, given as the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) combination vaccine (see our infographic on the pertussis vaccine in pregnancy)
  • 3. the COVID-19 vaccine

 

In addition, if you are pregnant, you can typically receive any of the non-live vaccines approved for use in Canada. Non-live vaccines use a killed (inactivated) version of a virus or bacteria, or parts/by-products of viruses or bacteria. Because non-live vaccines do not use a live virus or bacteria in the vaccine, it is impossible to become infected with said virus or bacteria if you receive one of these vaccines. As such, they are considered safe to receive if you are pregnant.

I am planning a pregnancy. What vaccines should I consider before getting pregnant?

In general, if you are planning a pregnancy, you should consider getting any vaccines you have never received in the past or that you are not up to date on.

However, before becoming pregnant, there are two main vaccines that you should consider getting if you have never received these vaccines in the past. These vaccines are:

  • 1. the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
  • 2. the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine – to specifically protect against rubella

 

You cannot receive these vaccines during pregnancy as they are live vaccines and, as a result, pose a potential risk to your developing baby.

The reason it is recommended that you receive the varicella and MMR vaccines before you become pregnant is that if you catch varicella or rubella while pregnant, it may cause your baby to be born with conditions that will affect them for the rest of their life.

Why is immunization important before and during pregnancy?

Pregnancy causes certain changes to take place within your body that can affect your immune system, heart, and lungs. These changes can leave you more susceptible to catching some diseases, and to experiencing severe infection. If you catch certain communicable diseases while pregnant, such as rubella, the infection can be passed on to your baby, who may be born with conditions that will affect them for life. As well, there are other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough), that are most severe in children too young to be immunized.

Therefore, getting vaccinated with recommended vaccines both before and during pregnancy will help give yourself and your baby the best protection possible against harmful vaccine-preventable diseases, such as rubella, varicella (chickenpox), influenza (flu), and pertussis, to name a few.

How does getting vaccinated while pregnant protect my baby?

When you get vaccinated, your body creates protective proteins called antibodies that specifically protect against the disease you are being immunized against. When you get vaccinated while pregnant, you pass on some of these antibodies to your baby in the womb (in utero). Once your baby is born, these antibodies provide them with some short-term protection (a couple of months or so) against the disease you were immunized against while pregnant.

What about the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine? Can I get that vaccine if I am pregnant?

Yes! You can safely get the RSV vaccine if you are pregnant.

As of December 2023, a vaccine that protects against RSV was approved for use in Canada for people 32 to 36 weeks pregnant. Getting immunized against RSV while pregnant gives your baby some short-term protection against severe RSV infection for up to six months after they have been born. Talk to your healthcare professional to see if you can get immunized against RSV while pregnant.

Can I get vaccinated if I am breastfeeding?

Yes, you can safely receive any of the routinely recommended vaccines in Canada if you are breastfeeding. There is no evidence that receiving any of these vaccines while you are breastfeeding will harm you or your baby.

However, the following vaccines are not recommended for people who are breastfeeding:

  • 1. the yellow fever vaccine
  • 2. the oral typhoid vaccine
  • 3. the Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine
  • 4. the Ebola vaccine
  • 5. the live replicating smallpox vaccine

 

In extenuating circumstances, your healthcare professional may recommend you receive one or more of the vaccines listed above.

If I am planning to travel while pregnant, are there certain vaccines I should receive?

Depending on where you are travelling to, your healthcare professional may recommend you receive a vaccine to protect against one or more of the following diseases, especially if you are likely to become severely infected with one of them:

  • 1. typhoid
  • 2. cholera
  • 3. enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (travellers' diarrhea)

 

The yellow fever vaccine is not recommended for pregnant people (it is a live vaccine). However, if you absolutely must travel to a place where yellow fever is very common/active and you will not be well protected against mosquito bites, your healthcare professional may recommend you receive the yellow fever vaccine.

It is also highly recommended that you visit a travel health clinic at least six weeks before you plan to travel outside of Canada if you are pregnant. Travel clinics can provide you with up-to-date information – such as which vaccines you may need depending on your travel destination – on how best to protect yourself and your developing baby from certain diseases found only in other countries that can be very serious if caught during pregnancy.

Why are non-live vaccines considered safe to receive while pregnant, while live vaccines are not generally recommended?

Live vaccines use a weakened (attenuated) version of a virus or bacteria. Non-live vaccines use a killed (inactivated) version of a virus or bacteria, or parts/by-products of viruses or bacteria.

Because non-live vaccines do not use a live virus or bacteria in the vaccine, it is impossible to become infected with said virus or bacteria if you receive one of these vaccines. As live vaccines use a weakened version of a virus or bacteria, they can be used safely in people with healthy immune systems without causing infection.

However, live vaccines are generally not recommended for people who have a severely weakened immune system – or for pregnant people. If you are pregnant, there is the possibility that even the weakened form of a virus or bacteria in a live vaccine could infect your unborn baby. This is why non-live vaccines are recommended, and live vaccines are normally not recommended, during pregnancy.


    Last Updated: 30 May 2024