IMPORTANT VACCINES FOR NEW
PARENTS PT. 1
AND WHEN TO GET THEM
When my husband and I decided it might be time to start our family a few months ago, I knew that we should schedule appointments with our doctors to get clean bills of health before we did anything else. When my nephew was born, my sister made sure that our whole family received the Tdap vaccine (Tetanus, Diptheria and Pertussis) before we were allowed anywhere near the baby. I figured there were probably other important vaccines for new parents that we would need to get, but there were a few things I didn’t realize until I started looking into it.
A quick Google of “important vaccines for new parents” brings up a whole slew of information that can be intimidating to read through. So, I’ll save you the trouble of combing through multiple articles, and summarize everything you need to know here! I’m probably a bit weird, because this is something that is oddly soothing for me. I really love researching things, and I love sharing what I learn with whoever will listen. And sometimes people who aren’t listening…but I digress!
The main thing I didn’t realize is that there are a few vaccines you’ll need to get before (or after) you start trying to conceive. These are the only vaccines I’ll be covering in this post, but I’ll have an additional post talking about important vaccines to get during pregnancy. That post will go up later this week!
BEFORE or AFTER Pregnancy:
- Chicken Pox (Varicella) – If you never had the chicken pox as a child, and weren’t vaccinated either, you need to get this vaccine before you conceive. It’s given in 2 doses, 4 weeks apart. The CDC recommends that you also delay conception for 4 weeks after your second dose. If you aren’t sure whether or not you are immune to the chicken pox, your doctor can take some blood and check! If you are already pregnant, you’ll need to wait until after the baby is born to receive this vaccine.
- Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR) – All three of these diseases can have negative impacts on your fetus if contracted during pregnancy. Low-birthweight, increased risk of miscarriage and pre-term delivery to name a few. Rubella also goes by the name German Measles, if you see that pop up anywhere. This is another vaccine that will require you to delay your trying-to-conceive start date. The CDC recommends the same 4 week delay after you receive this vaccine. If you aren’t sure whether or not you’ve had this vaccination, it’s perfectly safe to get another one. Just remember, if you’re already pregnant, you’ll need to wait until after you deliver to get this vaccine.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – AKA the thing that causes most cervical cancers. If you’re under the age of 27 (and older than 9, which I hope we all are) you should consider getting this vaccine. I received the Gardasil series when I was 18 at the insistence of my mother. It was a series of 3 shots that hurt like a motherfudger, but I’m glad that she made me do it. With this vaccine, there isn’t enough research to know one way or the other if it is safe to get during pregnancy, so the best advice out there is: don’t risk it.
- Zoster (Shingles) – Shingles is another disease that can spawn from the Varicella (which sounds like a pasta dish) virus – the same one that causes Chicken Pox. Shingles is usually contracted by people over the age of 50, and it is recommended that you get the vaccine by the time you are 60. Because of the high age requirement for this disease, the main vaccine for Shingles, Zostavax, is not licensed for women of childbearing ages. I don’t think that this will apply to many expectant mothers, but if you are pregnant and are 50 years of age or more, be sure to wait until after delivery to get this shot.
It is also very important that everyone in your family (including friends – anyone who is a part of your village) double check on their immunities against these diseases as well.
Check back on Wednesday for the second half of this series: Important Vaccines for New Parents: and when to get them!