Immunizations for women keep them, and their newborn babies, safe from seasonal flus as well as significantly more serious conditions. We recommend reading the World Health Organization’s, Six Common Misconceptions About Immunizations, to guide your decision-making.
The healthcare community is on high-alert as states increasingly allow parents to exempt their children – and themselves – from vaccinations. While we understand the concern around vaccinations and their proposed threats, we encourage you to speak candidly with your healthcare provider and to begin doing some bona fide research on your own.
Women’s Vaccines 101: Where Should You Put Your Focus
Depending on your age and where you were born, you may or may not be current with your immunizations records. If you have your records on hand, take them to your annual wellness visit for review. If you’ve lost your vaccination records, titers – performed via lab analysis of a blood sample – can be used to determine which vaccinations you need and which you don’t.
In the meantime, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is extremely concerned that the rise in non-vaccinated children and adults could cause a widespread medical epidemic. ACOG writes:
Today’s declining vaccination rates due to nonmedical exemptions threaten to reverse decades of progress in reducing and possibly eliminating vaccine-preventable diseases. ACOG opposes nonmedical exemptions from state immunization requirements and urges ob-gyns to educate and encourage patients to get immunized.
Vaccinations are even more important when you’re pregnant because pregnant women are at risk for suffering more severe effects of communicable diseases due to changes in their immune systems, lungs and hearts.
Did you get your HPV shot?
HPV (human papilloma virus) is the most common STD in the United States, and is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer. Residual scarring from HPV and PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) can cause irreparable damage to the female reproductive tract. In some cases, scarring is so severe that it leads to an infertility diagnosis.
While the emphasis for getting and HPV shot falls to those in their middle school years, ACOG recommends women aged 27 through 45 years consider getting a 9-valent HPV vaccine if you haven’t had an HPV vaccine in the past, and you are sexually active with multiple partners – placing you at higher risk for catching HPV.
What about the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine?
We recommend every woman make sure she has the antibodies for varicella in her blood, which occur via childhood chicken pox infections or a varicella vaccine. However, women in their fertile years should be especially vigilant about this.
Pregnant women typically experience more severe side effects of chicken pox, including high fevers that require hospitalization and threaten their baby’s wellbeing. Also, babies in-utero are at risk for developing varicella-related congenital defects, including skin scarring, eye, brain, and gastrointestinal abnormalities.
Additionally, the varicella vaccine protects older women from developing shingles, an incredibly painful variation of varicella that erupts in a painful rash.
Don’t forget to get your flu vaccine
This article is posting right at the beginning of the CDC’s proclaimed flu season, which typically runs from October 1, through the end of May. Available in both shot and nasal spray form, the flu vaccine is recommended for those 6-months old and upward, with very few exceptions.
If you are pregnant, you are also encouraged to get a flu shot. Studies have shown that flu vaccines benefit pregnant women (and their babies) in multiple ways:
- Reducing respiratory illness and distress by half
- Reducing hospitalization from flu-related symptoms by 40%
- Providing your newborn baby with extra immune system support for the first few months after birth
Speak to your healthcare provider before getting a flu shot if…
While flu shots are widely available at pharmacies and clinics this time of year, we recommend getting vaccines at your healthcare provider’s office. There are multiple variations of flu vaccines and some are better than others depending on your:
- Personal history of flu shot side effects (if any)
- Any current allergies you may have
- Your age
- A history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)
Are you currently struggling with infertility and concerned about getting a vaccination or potential negative side effects? Schedule a consultation with us here at Reproductive Resource Center, Kansas City’s #1 fertility clinic.