Pregnancy and Breastfeeding - Frequently Asked Questions
You should not receive live virus vaccine while you are pregnant. There are some vaccines that can be given safely during pregnancy. For more information, please refer to the CDC website.
Can I get vaccinations if I am breastfeeding my child?
It depends on the kind of vaccine. Some vaccines may be recommended for breastfeeding mothers, such as influenza vaccine. Other vaccines have precautions associated with them for breastfeeding. For some vaccines, there is not yet enough scientific data to know whether it is safe to breastfeed after vaccination. Two vaccines that nursing mothers should avoid are smallpox and yellow fever. For more information from the CDC, go to: www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/vaccinations.htm. You may also contact a VHC healthcare provider if you have a question.
My wife is pregnant. Should I receive smallpox vaccine?
You should not receive the smallpox vaccine if you will have close contact with a pregnant woman because of the small risk of spreading the vaccine virus to another person. Fetuses of pregnant women who inadvertently receive the vaccine or receive a contact transmission of the vaccine are at risk for a rare complication called fetal vaccinia. The military offers options for military personnel in these circumstances such as temporary exemption or alternative housing. For further questions, see our pregnancy page or contact the VHC.
I received smallpox vaccine and now I found out that I'm pregnant. Should I terminate the pregnancy?
When a pregnant woman receives smallpox vaccine, there is a very rare but serious complication that can occur in the fetus called "fetal vaccinia." It is so rare that according to CDC there have been fewer than 50 cases ever reported in the world. Because fetal vaccinia is so rare, smallpox vaccination during pregnancy should not be a reason to consider termination of the pregnancy Smallpox vaccination of pregnant women has not been linked with prematurity, low birth weight, or other serious birth problems.
As with any pregnancy, make sure you receive regular prenatal care and inform your healthcare provider about the vaccination. You may also contact the Naval Health Research Center for information about the DoD Birth and Infant Health Registry.
I got the anthrax vaccine and then found out that I am pregnant. What should I do?
You should discuss your anthrax vaccination with their healthcare provider and/or obstetrician. As with any pregnancy, you should receive regular prenatal care. The VHC is available to help answer your questions about pregnancy and vaccine adverse events research. Please contact the VHC with further questions. The Naval Health Research Center is another resource for pregnancy-related vaccine questions.
Will anthrax vaccine affect my ability to have children?
Current research shows that anthrax vaccine does not affect pregnancy rates. Please contact the VHC if you are interested in this research or if you would like to discuss this issue with one of our healthcare providers. The Naval Health Research Center is another resource for pregnancy-related vaccine questions.