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Vaccine Know How

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Q. What vaccines are recommended before, during and after pregnancy?

A/ Recently a rise in measles has been noted in young children and young adults. It is important that when considering a pregnancy, mums must check that they are immune to infection from rubella (german measles) – this can be done by your GP.

It will always be checked as part of booking bloods at first visit to hospital of delivery when pregnant. Rubella infection during pregnancy may cause miscarriage or stillbirth, or birth defects such as deafness, blindness, brain damage or heart disease. The MMR vaccine provides immunity to infection from rubella.

It is a live vaccine and must be given at least one month before pregnancy. It may be given after delivery of baby and is safe when breastfeeding, if there is no documentation of at least one MMR vaccine in the past. The vaccine has been recommended and available in Ireland since 1988 and is given to children at 12 months of age by their GP, then a second dose when they start school.

Pertussis vaccine

As per HSE guideline and the National Immunisation Office, the recommendations to GPs are for pregnant women to have the Pertussis vaccine (also known as whooping cough or TDAP vaccine – tetanus, low dose diphtheria and low dose pertussis) between 16 to 36 weeks gestation in each pregnancy.

The vaccine is free at your GP under a new government scheme.

If you are already pregnant the flu vaccine should be given in September/October each year and is available from your GP or pharmacist.

In the northern hemisphere the flu season lasts from October to end of April.

Women who become pregnant at any stage during the flu season should get the flu vaccine. As it is an inactive type of vaccine, it can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy. People in ‘at risk’ groups can get the vaccine for free or through their employer, if not you may be charged an administration fee of €20 to €25.

For more information on vaccines during pregnancy, contact the HSE National Immunisation Office on 01-8676108.

Annette Mulhern is a midwife and nurse at Evie Antenatal Health. For more information click here.

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