August 8, 2016

Thomas M. Gellhaus, MD

To highlight the importance of immunizations across the lifespan, NFID is launching an inaugural National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) blog relay, featuring a guest post each week from an immunization champion and/or organization. Each week of #NIAM16 focuses on a different stage of the lifespan.

Gellhaus, ThomasSpecial thanks to American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) President, Thomas M. Gellhaus, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, IA, for sharing his perspective on the importance of vaccines for pregnant women, during week two of NIAM16, which is focused on immunizations recommended during pregnancy. 

As Ob-Gyns, we know the important role that vaccination plays in protecting the health of mother and baby. It is one of our best options in reducing their chances of morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases. Additionally, vaccination helps prevents the spread of certain infectious diseases.

The fall is usually when we start reminding women to get their annual flu vaccine, especially if they are pregnant. However, recent reports of whooping cough (pertussis) and measles exposure underscore the need to discuss other vaccinations with patients.

There are many reasons why pregnant women should get immunized:

  1. Pregnant women and infants are hit especially hard by disease outbreaks, which can be deadly;
  2. Two for one benefit: the vaccines recommended during pregnancy have been proven to be safe for both mom and unborn baby;
  3. Vaccination during pregnancy provides protection to babies after birth. This is important since most vaccines cannot be administered to infants until they are about six months old, leaving them vulnerable to infection.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a great time to talk to pregnant women and remind them about the importance of immunization.

Ob-Gyns can make a tremendous impact on increasing vaccination rates during pregnancy since it’s a time when they see patients more regularly than other healthcare providers. I encourage you to capitalize on these more frequent visits with patients as an opportunity to discuss the benefits of immunization with patients.

So, don’t wait for flu season, start counselling your patients now, during NIAM, to protect them and their babies! Learn about vaccines recommended before, during, and after pregnancy at and


Be sure to check NFID News each week during #NIAM16 to view guest blog posts, including next week’s guest post from Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, also known as Seattle Mama Doc

To join the conversation, follow NFID (@nfidvaccines) and ACOG (@acognews) on Twitter using the hashtag #NIAM16, like NFID on Facebook, join the NFID Linkedin Group, and subscribe to NFID Updates.