Safe Travel During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Immunizations and the Pregnant Traveler
Because there are theoretical risks to your unborn baby from vaccination, it's crucial to carefully review the risks and benefits of each immunization. Ideally, all pregnant women should be up to date on their routine immunizations. In general, pregnant women should be advised to avoid live vaccines and to avoid becoming pregnant within three months of having received one; however, no harm to the unborn baby has been reported from the accidental administration of these vaccines during pregnancy. Current information on vaccine safety during pregnancy is subject to change and can be verified at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website.


The combination diphtheria-tetanus immunization should be given if the pregnant traveler has not been immunized within 10 years. Although no evidence exists that tetanus and diphtheria toxoids are teratogenic, waiting until the second trimester of pregnancy to administer is a reasonable precaution for minimizing any concern about the theoretical possibility of such reactions.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella

The measles vaccine, as well as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines in combination, are live virus vaccines and are contraindicated in pregnancy. However, in cases in which the rubella vaccine was accidentally administered no complications have been reported. Because of the increased incidence of measles in children in developing countries, and because of the disease's communicability and its potential for causing serious consequences in adults, it is advisable to recommend that nonimmune women delay traveling until after giving birth, when immunization can be given safely. If a pregnant woman has a documented exposure to measles, immune globulin should be given within a six-day period to prevent illness.

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