Are travel vaccinations safe during pregnancy?

18/01/19

Pregnant woman sat down on her phone

Pregnancy affects the body in many ways. Due to these changes in the body, there are many precautions that you have to take when it comes to travel. None more so than when it comes to getting vaccinations while pregnant.

Can I get travel vaccinations if I’m pregnant?

In short, it’s advisable for pregnant women to avoid having any live vaccination, such as oral typhoid. The one live vaccine that is routinely exempt from this advice is yellow fever, as the risks of exposure to the disease are considered to outweigh the risks of vaccination during pregnancy.

young pregnant women on holiday

Should you travel abroad when pregnant?

To safeguard mother and baby we may advise against travel depending upon the destination, but we understand that sometimes a trip may be unplanned and necessary at short notice.

Despite some possible discomfort during your flight, travelling abroad when pregnant isn’t necessarily an issue. However, you could encounter some health issues dependant on your travel destination. Where possible, avoid travelling to destinations with Zika virus and Malaria risk throughout pregnancy. More serious complications can develop from diseases contracted abroad, including malaria, which is why it’s more important to prevent illnesses.

How can travel vaccinations affect pregnancy?

Theoretically, vaccinating pregnant women with live vaccines could potentially infect the unborn baby. Although information and cases of vaccinations infecting unborn babies are limited, pregnant women should typically avoid live vaccinations.

If travel to an area where vaccinations are required is unavoidable during pregnancy, you should always consult with a qualified travel healthcare professional. They will undergo some risk versus benefit analysis and offer advice.

passengers boarding plane for holiday

What vaccinations are safe during pregnancy?

Your travel specialist will undertake a thorough risk assessment with you and explain the risks and benefits of vaccination. Inactivated vaccines are not considered detrimental especially when the risk of disease is higher;  this is because these vaccines cannot replicate and cause disease in either the mother or her unborn baby.

Inactivated travel vaccinations

An example of inactivated travel vaccinations that are safer during pregnancy:

DTP

Pertussis

Hep A

Hep B

Intramuscular typhoid

Rabies

What vaccinations are dangerous during pregnancy?

Live vaccines can replicate and spread, potentially causing the disease in either the mother or the unborn baby. Generally, we would advise against vaccination during pregnancy. However, sometimes the risk of disease may be greater or lethal, meaning vaccination may be more beneficial if travel is unavoidable. Due to the dangers of disease, we recommend a consultation with a specialist travel nurse.

The best piece of advice when it comes to travelling abroad while pregnant is to try and avoid visiting areas where you require vaccinations. If visiting a country with a risk of disease is inescapable, consulting with your GP or a travel health expert before your trip is a must.

Here at London Travel Clinic, our travel health experts are always on hand to offer advice to pregnant women with imminent travel plans. You can book an appointment at one of our vaccination clinics today to ensure you and your baby remain safe throughout your trip.


Article last reviewed on 18/01/2019 by:

Denise Chalkley RN, RM, RHV, BSc, AMFTM RCPS (Glas)
Clinical & Operations Director for Travel Medicine

Denise is an associate member of the Faculty of Travel Medicine, and a freelance lecturer at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow for the Faculty of Travel Medicine. She also lectures at the University of Hertfordshire teaching immunisations, tuberculosis, sexual health and travel medicine.

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