Women should be up to date on their vaccines before becoming pregnant, and should receive vaccines against both the flu and whooping cough (pertussis) during pregnancy. These vaccines not only protect the mother by preventing illnesses and complications, but also pass on vaccine protection to her unborn child.
Pregnancy is a good opportunity to start learning about the safe, proven disease protection that vaccines will provide to their babies once they are born. Pregnant women should also plan on receiving the flu and whooping cough vaccines during each pregnancy. Pregnant women are at an increased risk for complications from the flu.
The flu shot helps to protect a pregnant woman and her unborn child from the flu as well as lessen her symptoms if she does contract it. A flu shot also allows the mother to pass antibodies on to her newborn for some early flu protection. By getting a whooping cough vaccine in the third trimester, the mother also develops antibodies and passes them on to her baby so that her baby is born with protection against whooping cough. More (PDF)
Birth Through Age Six
Babies receive vaccinations that help protect them from 14 diseases by age 2. It is very important that babies receive all doses of each vaccine, as well as receive each vaccination on time. After age 2, children are still recommended to receive a yearly flu vaccine and will be due for additional vaccine doses between 4 and 6 years of age. Getting all of the recommended vaccines is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health. If a child falls behind the recommended immunizations schedule, vaccines can still be given to “catch-up” the child before adolescence.
When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their play groups, child care centers, classrooms and communities – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions. Child care settings and schools are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases because students can easily spread illnesses to one another as a result of poor hand washing, uncovered coughs and dense populations.