New mothers and infants are at a special risk for many diseases. To protect new mothers and their infants, Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center and Newton Medical Center offer several vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prior to your discharge from the postpartum unit. If you have any questions about whether or not you should take the following vaccines, talk to your doctor.
Rubella (German Measles)
Rubella virus causes rash, mild fever and arthritis (mostly in women). If a woman gets rubella while she is pregnant, she could have a miscarriage or her baby could be born with serious birth defects. Every woman is checked during pregnancy to see if she is immune (protected) from the Rubella virus.
The Rubella vaccine cannot be taken during pregnancy. If you are not Rubella-immune, you will be offered the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine on the postpartum floor prior to discharge. It is safe to breastfeed after this vaccine, but women should avoid pregnancy for three months after receiving the vaccine.
Pertussis (whooping cough)
Pertussis cases are increasing in the United States, especially among adolescents and adults. Unimmunized infants are at the greatest risk for potentially serious, even fatal, complications of this disease. The CDC recommends that a pregnant woman should get a dose of Tdap (Tetanus, Diptheria, Pertussis) vaccination during every pregnancy. It is also important to make sure that everyone around the baby has had a recent Tdap vaccine. This includes both parents, grandparents, siblings and babysitters. It is safe to breastfeed after this vaccine.
Influenza (seasonal flu)
Influenza is caused by the influenza virus, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing or nasal secretions. Anyone can get the flu, but rates of infection are highest among children and infants. For most people, it lasts only a few days, but some people, such as infants, elderly, and those with certain health conditions, can get much sicker. To protect new mothers and infants, we offer this vaccine on the postpartum floor prior to discharge during flu season when supplies are available. It is safe to breastfeed after this vaccine.
H1N1 influenza (swine flu)
H1N1 influenza is caused by a new strain of influenza virus spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing and sometimes through touching objects contaminated with the virus. Pregnant women and new babies younger than six months of age are particularly at risk if they are infected. To protect new mothers and infants, we offer this vaccine (as part of a seasonal flu vaccine) on the postpartum floor prior to discharge during flu season while supplies are available. It is safe to breastfeed after this vaccine.
Hepatitis B is a serious viral disease that affects the liver and can lead to liver damage, liver cancer or death. Chronic infection is more common among infants and children than among adults. People who are infected can spread the hepatitis B virus (HBV) to others, even if they don’t appear sick. The CDC recommends that all children get their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine at birth and should complete the vaccine series by six to 18 months of age.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC have a recommended schedule for childhood immunization.
For additional information about vaccines, including precautions and contradictions for immunization and vaccine shortages, please visit the National Immunization Program, or contact 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636), in English and Spanish 24 hours a day, seven days a week.