October 2019
In this issue: Be Pregnancy Wise...Immunize!
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Be Pregnancy Wise...Immunize!

‘Tis the season for coughs, colds, and flu! Achoo! But what do you REALLY need to know about infections and immunizations during pregnancy? Since public health is our business, we have the inside scoop on this stuff and want to share it with you!   

First, you might be wondering why infections and immunizations in pregnancy are such an important topic. Well, it’s because the immune system changes during pregnancy; leaving moms-to-be more likely to get some infections or have dangerous health problems from those infections. Those same infections could also harm the unborn baby.

When a mom-to-be is immunized, she and her unborn baby are less likely to get sick from the infections she is immunized against. PLUS the unborn baby gets antibodies from mom to help protect the baby from infections during the first few months after they are born (before they start getting their own immunizations). 
Another key way to prevent infections is to clean your hands often and well. Handwashing is the single most important method of preventing the spread of infections whether you are pregnant or not! 
So now, here’s that inside scoop about infections and immunizations that we promised. 

1. Influenza (the flu)

Canada’s flu season generally runs from October to April each year. Pregnant women are considered high-risk and we recommend that you get the flu shot early in the season. The flu vaccine is safe to get at any stage of pregnancy and will help protect you and your unborn baby from the flu. Your baby will also be protected after they’re born in two ways:
  • When you’re immunized you’re less likely to bring the flu home to your baby.
  • Your baby will get antibodies from you before birth to help protect them after birth--this is extra important since babies less than 6 months old can’t get the flu shot.
So make a quick stop into a nearby pharmacy for your flu shot, drop into a Public Health flu clinic near you, or book an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Learn more about the flu.

2. Whooping Cough

Even if you were immunized against whooping cough in the past, it’s recommended you get immunized between 27 and 32 weeks of each and every pregnancy. Getting immunized at this stage of pregnancy allows the time your body needs to make antibodies and then share them with your baby before birth. Sometimes there are reasons to get this immunization before 27 weeks or after 32 weeks of pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about your specific situation.

3. Traveling while pregnant

Zika is a virus that can cause serious birth defects to an unborn baby (e.g., microcephaly/small head, brain abnormalities, vision and hearing loss). Health Canada recommends that pregnant women (or those planning to become pregnant) avoid traveling to areas where there is a risk of being infected with the Zika virus. If your sexual partner travels to a Zika-affected area, condoms are recommended during sex for the rest of your pregnancy. For more information, read Pregnancy and Zika and talk to your healthcare provider.
Zika isn’t the only thing to consider if you’re thinking about traveling during pregnancy. It’s important to do some research and talk to your healthcare provider before booking your trip, especially if it involves flying in a plane, traveling outside of Canada, or going somewhere with limited access to healthcare services. More information about traveling during pregnancy is provided by the Government of Canada.

4. Immunization Records

Your wee one will be 2 months old before you know it--and that brings them to their first immunization appointment! See the Ontario immunization schedule, and even create a personalized schedule for your baby on the website.
Proof of immunization (or a completed exemption) is required for your child to attend licensed childcare and school. It’s your responsibility to keep track of the immunizations your baby gets and then report them to public health, even if your baby’s healthcare provider is keeping a record. Remember that yellow immunization card your mom or dad carried around for you? Believe it or not, these are still around to help you track your child’s immunizations--just ask your healthcare provider or Public Health for one. You can also use the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) tool to electronically track AND report your child’s vaccinations. Our website has more information about reporting your baby's immunizations as well as the exemption process.
Looking for more information about immunizations and the diseases they protect against? Check out and Immunize Canada and A Parent's Guide to Vaccination.

One final note:

It’s never too late to talk to your healthcare provider about whether your immunizations are up-to-date. Some immunizations are not recommended during pregnancy, but many are completely safe to get. If you need to catch up on an immunization but it’s one that generally isn’t given during pregnancy, you and your healthcare provider can make a plan to do this after your baby is born.  In the meantime, you can ask everyone you live with to make sure their immunizations are up-to-date to help protect you and your unborn baby. 

Learn more

  • Want to learn more about pregnancy? Public Health has a FREE Online Prenatal Program.
  • Planning to give birth at the Guelph General Hospital Family Birthing Unit? Sign up for their tour and information session offered the third Wednesday evening of each month. 
  • Enjoying this monthly e-newsletter? Subscribe to Public Health's Let's Talk Parenting e-Newsletter to get reliable, local parenting information directly to your inbox.
  • Not sure how you will pay for dental care for your children? Public Health has free dental clinics for kids ages 0 to 17.
Follow us on Twitter @LetsTalkParents
and Facebook @LetsTalkParenting.
Public Health supports breastfeeding.
Talk to a public health nurse at
Let's Talk Parenting.

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