Breastfeeding Mothers and Vaccination: Hot Topic Tuesday Blog Hop

The Hot Topic Tuesday question for the week is “Should women be vaccinated while breastfeeding?”

Vaccination NeedleIn my researched opinion, every single individual who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated. Vaccines save lives. When too many people opt out of getting vaccines, herd immunity is lowered, which puts people who legitimately cannot be vaccinated like the very young and those with compromised immune systems at unnecessary risk.

Breastfeeding mothers are one group of the population that should be vaccinated when necessary. Even though young babies must wait to get a number of vaccines until an older age, for a breastfeeding mother to be vaccinated poses no risk to the baby. Most vaccines cannot be transmitted through breast milk. Even in the case of the rubella (German measles) vaccine, when the virus is rarely passed to the baby through the milk, infection in the infant is asymptomatic and poses no risk to the baby. Furthermore, when a breastfeeding mother is vaccinated, some of the antibodies that her body makes will be passed to the baby, offering her child some protection. (However, note that breastfeeding is not an effective substitute for vaccination.)

The only vaccine that is not recommended for breastfeeding mothers is the small pox vaccine, not because of the virus being transmitted to the baby through the milk but because the child could come in contact with the injection site and become infected. However, anyone who has been inoculated against the small pox is advised to avoid contact with young babies and anyone else who has not been vaccinated.

After my daughter was born, I got my diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) shot at her first appointment with our doctor. I was breastfeeding but did not hesitate to get vaccinated because the DTaP vaccine for me caused no risk to my daughter. On the contrary, if I had been exposed to pertussis (whooping cough) in particular, the outcome could have been fatal for my newborn. This fall, when I am still breastfeeding, I will be getting my annual flu shot as well. I am up-to-date on all my other shots, so I do not need to worry about those vaccines. However, I would and will get any other needed shots whether I am breastfeeding or not.

So, yes, in my educated opinion, all breastfeeding women who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated.

What do you think about getting vaccinated while breastfeeding? Share a link to your post. Please also share this post on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ after you share your link. Although not required, for some good comment karma, visit the three links in front of your posting.

Hot Topic Tuesday

Next week’s Hot Topic Tuesday subject: How long should young children remain in rear-facing car seats?

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Breastfeeding and Vaccines:
Breastfeeding: Recommendations: Vaccines:

Image Credits

Vaccination Needle:

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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