Pregnancy And The Flu
Certain groups of people have a higher risk of complications from including pregnant women.
If you catch the flu during pregnancy, you and your developing baby can be at risk for dangerous complications, even death. Here you’ll learn more about the flu in pregnancy, and ways to prevent the flu including the flu shot.
How Does Getting A Flu Shot Help Protect Your Baby Too
In addition to this, fever is one of the most common symptoms of the fluand in pregnant people, a high internal body temperature can lead to defects in an infant’s neural tubes , which could harm the baby, per the CDC. And while this outcome is very rare, it wouldnt hurt if you exercised precaution.
In short, the flu shot decreases your risk of getting sick with the flu, and thus lowers your risk of high fevers that could impact your babys health, Pathak says.
Where Should A Pregnant Person Get Vaccinated
There are many different options for pregnant people to receive a flu shot, including a health care providers office, at work, a pharmacy, some stores, or a supermarket. All these places give flu vaccines that are licensed and approved for use in the United States. If youve never had a problem when previously receiving a flu vaccine, then there is no reason you cant get a flu vaccine at work or a supermarket.
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Where Can I Get A Flu Shot When I’m Pregnant
Many OB/GYN practices offer the flu shot to pregnant patients. You can also stop by a flu shot clinic at your local pharmacy or supermarket.
And since the CDC puts pregnant women at the top of the priority list for getting the flu shot , youll likely head to the front of the line, even if the vaccine is in short supply.
Keep in mind that youll have to stick with the needle when it comes to your seasonal flu vaccine, since the nasal spray vaccine is not approved for pregnant women.
Why You Should Get The Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine can protect your baby from flu until they are 6 months old. It can also prevent you from getting flu and passing it on to your baby.
Dr Maeve Eogan, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, talks about why you should get the flu vaccine if you are pregnant.
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Reduces Your Risk Of Getting The Flu
A flu vaccine is the most effective way to avoid getting the flu and during pregnancy, avoiding getting sick is more important than ever. You may already be dealing with aches and pains, nausea, headaches, and extreme fatigue. The last thing you want to add to that is a viral infection!
But it’s not just your comfort at risk if you get the flu while pregnant. Pregnant people are among the highest risk groups for developing serious complications, including death, from the flu, so reducing your chance of infection may even save your life.
Are Flu Shots Risky For Pregnant Women
Flu vaccines are not dangerous for pregnant women. Many large scientific studies not only support their safety in pregnancy they also show better outcomes for mom and baby, including a lower risk of stillbirth.
Yet false reports about vaccine dangers once spread like wildfire. The fears of vaccines causing miscarriage or autism were based on a few studies that were later declared fraudulent and recalled, says Dr. Ridgeway.
The flu vaccine given during pregnancy does not use live virus, making it even safer than regular flu vaccine. And if youre concerned about thimerosal, a preservative used in the flu vaccine, a thimerosal-free vaccine is available.
Fears about the flu shot giving you flu are also unfounded, she says. Sometimes, though, your body has a short-lived immune response to the vaccine.
Whatever happens in that short time is far preferable to getting full-blown flu in any trimester of pregnancy, she stresses.
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Why Do I Need A Flu Shot During Pregnancy
Normal changes in your immune system during pregnancy may increase your risk of flu complications. The flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu for you and your baby. Pregnant people are at high risk for severe illness, hospitalization and death if they get the flu. If you get the flu while pregnant it can also cause serious problems for your baby including premature labor and birth defects.
Studies show that getting a flu shot while pregnant can help protect your baby from the flu for up to six months after birth. Breastfeeding after the baby is born helps strengthen their immune system but is not a replacement for getting vaccinated.
Can The Flu Vaccine Give Me The Flu
A common worry is that the flu vaccine can give you the flu. This isnt possible.
The flu vaccine is made from an inactivated form of the influenza virus or virus components that cant cause infection. Some individuals do experience side effects that will typically go away in a day or so. These include:
- low-grade fever
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When To Get The Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine is available from October to the end of April each year.
You can get the vaccine at any point in your pregnancy. But try to get it as early in your pregnancy as you can.
You can get it at the same time as your whooping cough vaccine and your COVID-19 vaccine. If you have had the COVID-19 vaccine, you should still get the flu vaccine.
If you were pregnant during last year’s flu season and got the flu vaccine, you’ll still need to get this season’s flu vaccine.
Is The Flu Shot Safe For Pregnant Women
When we talk about the safety of medications for pregnant women, were actually considering two separate things: safety for the mom and safety for the baby. Many times, medications that women take routinely before or after pregnancy arent recommended during pregnancy because we just dont have enough scientific data to show that the medication is safe for the baby.
The flu vaccine is different. It has been given to millions of pregnant women over the years. As documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , there is a significant amount of scientific evidence to show that the flu vaccine is safe for both mother and baby.
There is a significant amount of scientific evidence to show that the flu vaccine is safe for both mother and baby.
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Can You Get The Flu Shot While Pregnant
If youre pregnant, flu season can be very scary. To avoid getting sick and keeping your baby as healthy as possible, you may be wondering if its safe to get the flu shot. Well, good news: not only is it safe, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly advise pregnant women to protect themselves against the flu by getting immunized, no matter their stage of pregnancy.
POPSUGAR spoke with Sabina Kobylinski-Tognazzini, assistant medical director at Doctor On Demand, who seconds the motion that pregnant women should get the flu shot. Pregnant women can receive the flu shot in any trimester, she said, emphasizing its the shot thats safe for pregnant women, not the live nasal spray vaccine. Its actually very important to get vaccinated against the flu if youre expecting because, as Kobylinski-Tognazzini explained, Pregnant women are likely to become much sicker after catching the flu than nonpregnant women due to changes in body chemistry. Further concern is that catching the flu can be potentially harmful to an unborn baby.
What Happens If I Still Get Sick While Pregnant
While the flu shot is the most effective way to prevent infection it isn’t a guarantee you won’t get sick. If you do show symptoms of the flu, limit your contact with others and contact your healthcare provider immediately. Your doctor should prescribe antiviral medication if you are suspected of having the flu.
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More Reasons You Need A Flu Shot If You Are Pregnant
If you’re pregnant, a flu shot is your best protection against serious illness from the flu. A flu shot can protect pregnant women, their unborn babies, and even the baby after birth.
If you’re pregnant, a flu shot is your best protection against serious illnesses caused by the flu.
The flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women more prone to severe illness from flu, which can lead to hospitalization or even death. A pregnant woman with the flu also has a greater chance of serious problems for her unborn baby, including miscarriage or preterm birth.
A flu shot can protect pregnant women, their unborn babies, and even the baby after birth.
Can Pregnant People With Egg Allergies Get Vaccinated
Most people who have an allergy to eggs can get vaccinated, with some additional safety measures. A person with severe allergy to any vaccine component, including egg protein, should not get the shot, even if they are pregnant. Pregnant people should tell the person giving the shots if they have any severe allergies or if they have ever had a severe allergic reaction following a flu shot.
People with egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended age-appropriate influenza vaccine that is otherwise appropriate. People who have a history of severe egg allergy should be vaccinated in a medical setting, supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic reactions. Two completely egg-free flu vaccine options are available: quadrivalent recombinant vaccine and quadrivalent cell-based vaccine.
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Flu Shots During Pregnancy
- By Andrea Chisholm, MD, Contributor
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Is your head already spinning from all of the confusing information about the safety of routine vaccinations? Well, news of the latest findings regarding the flu vaccine during pregnancy certainly wont help things.
A group of researchers recently reported an association between a pregnant woman getting the flu vaccine and having a miscarriage.
The authors were clear that the study could not establish that flu shots cause miscarriage. It could only report the observation that, in this small group of women, miscarriage was slightly more common within 28 days of getting the flu shot but only in women who had also gotten a specific formulation of the flu shot the previous year. More research would be needed to draw conclusions beyond that.
But before you panic or march off to your next prenatal appointment to emphatically refuse this seasons flu vaccine, lets take a step back and look at this situation a little more carefully.
Should I Get A Flu Shot If I Am Pregnant
Many women, when pregnant, worry about everything entering their body. Concerns about their diet and medications run rampant. This is especially true when it comes to one hotly debated topic: the seasonal flu shot.
The flu shot is considered an important part of prenatal care, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists it “an essential element of pre-pregnancy, prenatal, and postpartum care” and on all obstetriciangynecologists and all providers of obstetric care advocate for influenza vaccination and provide to their pregnant patients. Changes in a womans immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make her more susceptible to infection. Even women in good health prior to pregnancy and with a history of mild flu symptoms are at risk of serious illness should they become sick with the flu during pregnancy. A study of hospitalizations during the 20092010 H1N1 flu pandemic in Washington State found that pregnant women were more likely to need hospital care compared to non-pregnant flu patients, particularly in the Intensive Care Unit . A similar study from the 20132014 flu season in California reached the same conclusion. Pregnant women benefit most from the flu vaccine, and they should receive antiviral medication promptly if one suspects they have the flu.
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Heres Why We Recommend That Pregnant Women Get A Flu Shot
Put this risk of severe complications from the flu together with the relative low risk of the flu vaccine, and its easy to understand why getting the flu shot during pregnancy is so strongly recommended.
Getting vaccinated against the flu during pregnancy has benefits for your baby as well. Newborns, like pregnant women, are more likely to get seriously ill or even die if they get the flu. Your baby cant get a flu shot until 6 months of age. However, if you get the flu vaccine during pregnancy you will pass antibodies to your baby that will protect him or her from the flu in the first few months of life. This is especially important for babies that will be born during flu season .
How Do I Get The Flu Vaccine
Contact your midwife or GP surgery to find out where you can get the flu vaccine. It’s a good idea to get vaccinated as soon as possible after the vaccine becomes available in September.
In some areas, midwives can give the flu vaccine at the antenatal clinic. In others, you will need an appointment at a GP surgery.
Some community pharmacies now offer the flu vaccine on the NHS.
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Is It Safe To Get A Flu Shot During Pregnancy
Getting a flu vaccine while pregnant is safe and recommended. In fact, pregnant people are one of the highest risk groups for developing serious complications from the flu.
“Influenza can be much more dangerous to pregnant women and their babies than to non-pregnant women,” notes Dr. Karp. “So, if you’re pregnant during flu season, your OB or midwife will advise getting a flu shot as early as possible.”
Even though there is a nasal spray vaccine available, people who are pregnant should only get the injection and not the nasal spray.
The Flu Shot Is Effective
The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from season to season. It depends on:
- how well the vaccine matches with the circulating flu viruses
- the health and age of the person getting the flu shot
The viruses circulating in the population can sometimes change during the time it takes to produce a vaccine. When this happens during the flu season, the flu shot may not work as well as expected.
It’s also important to remember that the flu shot protects against several different flu viruses each season. The seasonal flu shot can still provide protection against the remaining 2 or 3 viruses, even when theres:
- a less-than-ideal match
- lower effectiveness against one virus
If you do get the flu, the flu shot may reduce the severity of flu-related complications.
Getting your flu shot is still the most effective way to protect yourself against the flu and flu-related complications.
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What To Do If Youre On The Fence About Getting Vaccinated
Getting the flu shot during any trimester of pregnancy is reasonable and safe, and being vaccinated against the flu in the first trimester will not put your baby at risk. But if youre nervous about getting the flu shot during the first trimester, dont refuse to be vaccinated. Just hold off until after you reach 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Vaccine study reported there was no increased risk after 20 weeks of pregnancy. You might not be as fully protected from the flu, which can lead to serious complications including hospitalization and even death in pregnant women, but your baby will still get the antibody benefit.
The key takeaway for women is that scientific research studies have never proven a cause/effect relationship between the flu vaccine and miscarriage. In fact, showed no link between miscarriage rates and maternal flu vaccination using clinical data, and an found no increased risk between maternal flu vaccination and birth defects in babies. Even the study published in Vaccine states that the data retrieved demonstrate an association, not a cause/effect relationship, between flu shots and miscarriage.
Facts About Flu Vaccination Treatment And Pregnancy
More information on the importance of flu vaccination during pregnancy is available.
More information on the safety of flu vaccination is available.
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