Immunization is Crucial for Pregnant Patients and Their Babies

As ob-gyns, we know the important role that vaccination plays in the health of mother and baby. It is one of our best options in reducing their chances of morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases. Additionally, vaccination helps prevents the spread of certain infectious diseases.

The fall is usually when we start reminding women to get their annual flu vaccine, especially if they are pregnant. However, recent reports of whooping cough (pertussis) and measles exposure underscore the need to discuss other vaccinations with our patients. August is National Immunization Awareness Month and a great time to talk to your pregnant patients about immunization.

We can help increase vaccination rates during pregnancy since it’s a time when we see our patients more regularly. I encourage you to use these more frequent visits with patients as an opportunity to discuss the benefits of immunization with your patients. There are a lot of benefits for pregnant women who decide to get immunized, a few you can share with your patient follow:

  • Pregnant women and infants are hit especially hard by disease outbreaks.
  • Vaccination during pregnancy not only provides protection to the mother but also their baby since most vaccines cannot be administered to infants until they are about six months old.
  • Many vaccines are safe for pregnant women. Vaccines to prevent the seasonal influenza (flu) virus and pertussis (whooping cough) are recommended for pregnant women because of the high risk those diseases pose to infants. The Tdap vaccine for pertussis also protects against tetanus and diphtheria.

So, don’t wait for flu season, this month counsel your patients to protect themselves and their babies. Learn more on ACOG’s Immunization for Women website.

This entry was posted in Women's Health and tagged , , , , by Tom Gellhaus, MD. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tom Gellhaus, MD

Tom Gellhaus, MD is ACOG President through 2017. He is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa. Dr. Gellhaus graduated from Yankton High School in Yankton, South Dakota, received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Chemistry from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and his Doctor of Medicine Degree from the University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Following residency, he entered private practice in Davenport, Iowa and after 20 years in private practice, he returned to academic medicine at the University of Iowa. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Gellhaus has served in many ACOG positions at the local, regional, national and international levels. Dr. Gellhaus’ interests are in the areas of health care advocacy and policy. He has also been very involved and active in global healthcare. He has completed the McCain Fellowship, a month long in-depth experience in advocacy, at ACOG in Washington, D.C. in 1999. In 2001, he was a Primary Care Policy Fellow with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has remained active in Advocacy and Policy as a member of ACOG’s Government Affairs Committee and the Ob/Gyn PAC. Dr. Gellhaus has also been very active in leading groups on short-term medical and surgical mission projects for the last 20 years. He has done numerous presentations about these short-term medical and surgical mission projects throughout the United States.

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