Ideally women should prepare for pregnancy and one of the things they must do before falling pregnant is to check that their vaccinations are up to date. If you find yourself pregnant before you have had a chance to update your vaccinations, then you must talk to your obstetrician or GP at the first visit.
In general, any vaccine that is made up of a live attenuated virus should not be given during pregnancy. It is thought that these vaccines are safe to use in pregnancy, but due to the live virus it is not recommended that they be given as there is a theoretical risk to the fetus.
No adverse effects have been recorded in the fetus when live virus vaccines have been given during pregnancy. One vaccine that is commonly asked about is the Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine. The pertussis vaccine is
included in combination with Tetanus toxoid and a Diphtheria vaccine. Two common brand names in Australia are Boostrix and Adacel. It is recommended that women be vaccinated against pertussis prior to pregnancy, but if this has not occurred the vaccine should be given immediately after delivery. Anyone else who will come in contact with your baby should have the vaccine during your pregnancy.
Other vaccines which contain components of viruses such as the flu vaccine can be safely given in pregnancy and, due to a slight decrease in immunity during pregnancy, it is strongly advised that women are vaccinated against the flu. In general, flu vaccines are released in Australia every March and it is highly recommended that all women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, should have this vaccine.