Vaccines Women Need to Stay Healthy

Contact: James McCurtis Jr. (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

May 10, 2011

LANSING - In recognition of National Women's Health Week, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is urging women to get vaccinated against serious diseases such as pertussis (whooping cough), human papillomavirus or HPV (which can cause cervical cancer), and the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), to name a few. Vaccines aren't just for children. Adults need to be vaccinated throughout their lifespan in order to stay healthy. For example, adults who smoke or have asthma need pneumococcal vaccine and older adults need zoster (shingles) vaccine.


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued an updated schedule of recommended screenings, lab tests, and vaccines for non-pregnant women ages 13 years and older. The schedule includes information about which vaccines are recommended for certain age and risk groups. Vaccines can help keep women and their growing families healthy. Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should talk to their doctor about the vaccines they need.


Before becoming pregnant, a woman should be up-to-date on routine adult vaccines. It is especially important that women receive Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Infants less than 12 months of age are especially vulnerable to whooping cough, which is on the rise in the United States and in Michigan. Each year, there are around 3.3 million cases of pertussis in adolescents and adults. To protect infants, everyone around the baby - including parents, grandparents, siblings, day care and child care workers, and health care personnel - should be vaccinated against whooping cough and influenza.

During pregnancy, it is safe, effective, and important for women to receive the seasonal flu shot. A pregnant woman who gets the flu is at risk for serious complications and hospitalization. Often times, a mother's immunity is passed along to her baby during pregnancy. This protects the baby from some diseases during the first few months of life until the baby can get vaccinated. Since infants cannot receive the flu vaccine until 6 months of age, it is critical that pregnant women and those surrounding the baby get vaccinated.

After giving birth, it is safe for women to receive vaccines, even while breastfeeding. Women who have not received Tdap vaccine should be vaccinated right after delivery, along with family members who have not received Tdap vaccine. Additionally, women who are not immune to measles, mumps and rubella and/or varicella (chickenpox) should be vaccinated before leaving the hospital. Women and their family members should receive seasonal flu vaccine every year, in order to protect vulnerable infants from this serious disease.

MDCH urges women of all ages to get vaccinated against serious and preventable diseases and to ensure their family members are up-to-date on their vaccines as well. Immunization is a lifelong process and adults should talk to their health care provider about the vaccines they need to be healthy. For information on vaccines women need, visit: For information on vaccines adults need, visit: