OB GYN Doctor Alert: Important Vaccines for Women

(Originally Posted on Oct 8, 2014)

Vaccines Before & During Pregnancy

Many patients may not think of a visit to their OB GYN office as a time to catch up on their vaccine shots, but evaluating your immunization status and then filling in the gaps can be an important part of your gynecological care and can protect both you and your loved ones.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine

If you are under 26 and have not yet received the vaccine for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), your provider will most likely recommend this important immunization for you.

There are many different types of HPV and a few types cause over 80% of all cervical cancers.

Even if you have been exposed to HPV in the past, the vaccine can still protect you from the subtypes of the virus you have never been exposed to.

However, after age 26, many sexually active women will have already been exposed to most of the different subtypes so immunization is generally not helpful.

If you are over age 26 and have not been sexually active or have been sexually active only a short time, your insurance might not fully cover the vaccine, but it can still provide important protection. Talk with your OB/GYN about whether the vaccine might still be right for you.

Hepatitis A&B Vaccine

Viral Hepatitis is a condition caused by exposure to an infected persons blood or body fluids that causes inflammation and damage to the liver. The Hepatitis vaccine is recommended for sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship, anyone seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease (STD), or any person working in a medical facility or laboratory where they may be in contact with infected patients or body fluids.

Pertussis Booster

Pertussis, also known as “whooping cough” is an airborne viral respiratory infection that can be very dangerous, especially for babies. There is a vaccine for pertussis, but it can’t be given until the baby is two months old.

For this reason, the CDC currently recommends that all pregnant patients get a pertussis booster in the third trimester of every pregnancy. This provides protection both directly (via antibodies passed from mom to baby in utero) and indirectly as it keeps the mom from acquiring pertussis and then passing it on to the baby.

Your doctor may also recommend that other adults in the household get pertussis boosters as well; this action protects your baby and provides valuable indirect protection during their first two months of life.

Influenza Vaccine

Another important vaccine to consider if you are pregnant during flu season (usually loosely defined as from early October through late March) is an influenza (also known as flu) vaccine.

The flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy and important for three reasons:

  1. Changes to a woman’s immune system during pregnancy can make her more susceptible to the flu.
  2. The flu can adversely affect the unborn baby and can cause problems during pregnancy.
  3. If you are immunized against the flu while pregnant, you pass some of your protection to the baby.
  4. A recent study found that babies who were born to vaccinated mothers were 40 percent less likely to get the flu than babies born to unvaccinated moms.

OB GYN Doctor in Palm Beach County

Do you want to talk to a Board Certified OB/GYN about your immunization options? Please call Palm Beach Obstetrics & Gynecology today at (561) 434-0111.

Our practice offers three convenient OB GYN doctors’ offices in Lake Worth, West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. We accept most insurance carriers and are currently welcoming new patients.

References:

1. The CDC Fact Sheet on Whooping Cough

http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/prevention.html

2. The CDC Fact Sheet on Whooping Cough Vaccines in Pregnancy

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/pregnant/whooping-cough/get-vaccinated.html

3. JAMA Pediatrics: Maternal Influenza Vaccination and Effect on Influenza Virus Infection in Young Infants

http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=384298

4. Immunizations for Women: HPV Vaccinations

http://www.immunizationforwomen.org/site/assets/docs/HPV%20toolkit%20without%20infographic.pdf

Author
Dr. Sam Lederman

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