Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"I took the yellow fever shot and got pregnant probably the same day or day after. Should i be concerned?"
I'm 39 years old married woman planning to travel to Africa in the next 3 months. I am not very fertile and was out of contraception for the past 3 years without thinking I couldn't get pregnant. I have two children but it took me many years to have them. i got my yellow fever vaccine on Feb 1, and was supposed to have my period on Feb 16. I am now pregnant and I probably conceived right around the date I got the shot (I had one intercourse during the month!). While it seems incredible after trying for so long and with hardly insisting, I am now totally worried I may have to get an abortion or will have constant fear that the live vaccine affected the fetus health. How could I know? Will regular pregnancy testings will be able to detect any risk the vaccine could have caused? I read there were rare cases of skin deformation, miscarriage, and other health issues. I would never forgive myself for "intentionally" put at risk my baby's health and it would be a extremely difficult decision to choose abortion knowing there could have been no risk and it would have been healthy, and also the fact that I can't conceive easily.
Immunizations and pregnancy is a controversial topic. In general, we would not recommend a pregnant women get the Yellow Fever shot. However, there is limited to no data to support this. I would recommend that you discuss this with your OB/GYN. He or she can further address you concerns. In general, Yellow Fever is a relatively rare condition. That being said, it can cause significant problems, therefore we vaccinate against it in specific populations. There are two types of vaccines (generally speaking) -- inactivated vaccines and live attenuated vaccines. In inactivated vaccines the injection is of a protein or part of the virus. Your body sees it, then develops antibodies against it. This is just a part of the virus and not the whole thing -- so it really causes minimal problems. On the other hand, a live attenuated vaccine is the real life virus -- simply altered so it is weaker and doesn't really cause the disease. In these cases there is a small risk of getting the virus syndrome. There is even a smaller risk of passing it through the placenta to a child. Regardless, because of the theoretical risk we recommend against it. Yellow fever is (unfortunately) a live attenuated virus. If you are asymptomatic and did not develop a yellow fever type syndrome -- it is very unlikely you had a burden of disease to pass it on. It is very unlikely that you have effected the child. Regardless, close prenatal follow up with ultrasounds are important. Please talk to your doctor about this issue.
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