Infections and Immunizations in Pregnancy | OB-GYN


Infections and Immunizations in Pregnancy

Our women’s health care team provides vaccine counseling to help you figure out which vaccines you need and when. We offer all the recommended immunizations for pregnant people.

Medically reviewed by Clara Paik, M.D. on Oct. 12, 2023.

Pregnancy woman smiling after getting immunization in her arm

Experts Ready to Help You Stay Well During Pregnancy

The maternity specialists at UC Davis Health are knowledgeable about vaccine safety before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. We’ll answer your questions and provide any information you need regarding immunizations.


Recommended Vaccines: Before and During Pregnancy

Certain vaccines to protect against infectious diseases are recommended before and during your pregnancy to protect your health and your baby's health. 

Talk with your provider about receiving the following immunizations before you become pregnant:

The following vaccines are recommended during pregnancy:

  • COVID-19
  • Flu
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap)

Symptoms of Infections During Pregnancy

Some infections do not cause symptoms. Any symptoms you experience will depend on the disease you develop.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of infections during pregnancy include:

  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain during urination
  • Vaginal burning, itching or pain

Emergency Symptoms

Seek immediate medical care if you have any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever of 103 degrees or more
  • Spotty rash on your face, neck or body
  • Yellowing of your eyes or skin

Health Risks from Infections During Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes changes in your body’s hormone levels and immune system. These changes make you more likely to get certain infectious diseases and more likely to have severe symptoms.

Some infections pose a risk only to your health. Others can impact both your health and your baby’s health.

Birth Abnormalities

A chickenpox infection during pregnancy can cause birth abnormalities that affect your baby’s arms, brain, eyes and legs.

Low Birth Weight

Sexually transmitted diseases and rubella increase the risk of your baby being born with a low birth weight.


Diphtheria, HIV, influenza and tetanus infections during pregnancy can increase the risk of a miscarriage.


Changes to your lungs during pregnancy make you more prone to developing pneumonia. Influenza and COVID-19 are both linked to pneumonia.

Premature Birth

Many infections increase your risk of giving birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy.


Diagnosing Infections During Pregnancy

Our maternity care team is skilled in accurately diagnosing infections that occur during pregnancy. Your provider will discuss your medical history and symptoms. They may also recommend the following tests:

  • Blood tests to detect infections like HIV, hepatitis and rubella
  • Urinalysis to check for bacteria or a urinary tract infection
  • Vaginal swab to test for group B streptococcus and sexually transmitted infections

Treatment for Infections During Pregnancy

Our providers offer safe and effective treatments for infections that arise during pregnancy. We’ll monitor you and your baby throughout your pregnancy. Your treatment will depend on your condition.

Treatment options may include:


Antibiotic medications like penicillin and erythromycin treat bacterial infections. They are safe to take during pregnancy.

Antiviral Medications

Antiviral medicines treat viruses like COVID-19, herpes and influenza.


Preventing Infection During Pregnancy

Immunizations are one way to protect yourself and your baby from many infectious diseases. You can also take the following precautions:

  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products
  • Follow safe sex practices
  • Fully cook all meat and fish before eating
  • Have someone else in your household change the cat litter box
  • Wash your hands with soap and water throughout the day

Effectiveness of flu shots

40%Reduced risk of hospitalization for pregnant women with influenza

Source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Maternal Immunization Task Force

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