If you're pregnant, you need these two shots

- If you're pregnant or planning to conceive, experts say there are two vaccines you need, to protect both you and your unborn baby.

Dr. Anne Schucat, Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the first vaccine she would recommend is a flu shot.

Dr. Schuchat says pregnancy cause changes in a woman's immune system, heart and lungs, that can make it much harder for her to fight of a flu infection.

And infants, who also at higher risk for serious flu complications, cannot be vaccinated until they are at least 6-months old.

So, Dr. Schucat says, getting a flu shot during pregnancy can lower the risk for both mother and baby.

A flu shot is recommended in the first or second trimester.

"Vaccination can protect them mom but also have antibodies cross over the placenta to protect the baby, and keep that baby protected before they'll get the vaccines as an infant kick in," Dr. Schuchat says. 

Another vaccine expectant mothers should be getting is the Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis) vaccine, which includes a booster for whooping cough.

"If you've had it, it's the 100-day cough," Dr. Schuchat says.  "You can't sleep.  You're coughing away. You can barely breathe because of the spasms."

But pertussis can be especially dangerous for young babies, Dr. Schuchat says, whose developing lungs and immune system can be overwhelmed.

"What we're finding is that the most serious impact happens in the first two months of life, before the babies have gotten the vaccine," she says. 

So, the CDC recommends expecting moms get a whooping cough booster after 26 weeks.

"You need to get several dose in your life and it's not 100 percent effective," says Dr. Schuchat.  "So, we do have outbreaks, even in fully-vaccinated communities.  Right now, we're primarily focused on protecting the most vulnerable, the very young babies by making sure women in pregnancy get vaccinated."

Both the flu and Tdap vaccines are made with inactive ingredients, like killed viruses or dead bacteria.

Dr. Schuchat says about half of pregnant women are electing to get a flu shot.  

Vaccination rates are lower for the Tdap vaccine.

But, Schuchat says, both are safe, and both are highly recommended.

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