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Why Should I Get The Flu Shot While Pregnant

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How Do I Get The Flu Vaccine

Flu Vaccine Information for Pregnant Women and Children

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.

Getting The Flu Shot While Pregnant: Everything You Need To Know

The early weeks of pregnancy can be a nerve-racking time full of unknownsbut exciting all the same. You’re already off to a great start by coming to us for a debriefing on one pretty controversial yet extremely important subject matters: Getting your flu shot while you’re pregnant.

Since the shot takes two weeks to kick in, getting vaccinated during early fallpreferably by the end of Octoberis a must if you want the most protection from the yearly breakout. We turned to Parents‘ expert Dr. Lisa Hollier, chief medical officer of OB/GYN at The Center for Children and Women and president of ACOG, to ease your mind about making the right decision to receive your flu shot while pregnant. Here are the answers to all the most common questions moms have come flu season.

Why should pregnant women get the flu shot?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not. This is especially true during the second and third trimesters. Blame changes in your immune system, heart, and lungs for this unfortunate truth. Plus, the CDC notes that flu vaccines given during pregnancy can help protect a newborn for several months postpartum before a baby is old enough to receive the vaccination themselves. Consider the passing of antibodies as a welcome to the real-world gift.

Are there alternatives to the flu shot during pregnancy?

Is there a point in a pregnancy when the flu shot is not safe?

Frequently Asked Questions Expand All

  • What is influenza ?

    Influenza is more than a bad cold. It usually comes on suddenly. Signs and symptoms may include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, coughing, and sore throat. It can lead to complications, such as pneumonia. Some complications can be life-threatening.

  • Who is at risk of developing complications from the flu?

    Certain people have an increased risk of developing flu complications. These include the following groups:

  • Adults 65 years and older

  • Children younger than 5 years

  • People who have illnesses or conditions like asthma, heart disease, or cancer

  • Pregnant women

  • How does being pregnant increase my risk of complications from the flu?

    Normal changes in the immune system that occur during pregnancy may increase your risk of flu complications. You also have a higher risk of pregnancy complications, such as preterm labor and preterm birth, if you get the flu. You are more likely to be hospitalized if you get the flu while you are pregnant than when you are not pregnant. Your risk of dying from the flu is increased as well.

  • How does the flu vaccine work?

    The flu vaccine triggers your immune system to make antibodies against the flu virus. Antibodies circulate in the bloodstream. If they encounter a flu virus, they tag it for destruction by other parts of the immune system. It takes about 2 weeks for the body to build up protective antibodies after you get the flu shot.

  • Fever or feeling feverish

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    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.

    The Flu And Pregnancy

    Pregnant women should get the flu vaccine, but only half ...

    Most pregnant people with the flu will recover fully, but its important to acknowledge that contracting the flu while pregnant is associated with an increased risk for preterm labor and premature birth, says David C. Lagrew Jr., MD, medical director of the Womens and Childrens Institute at Providence St. Joseph Hospital.

    Severe disease can lead to the need to deliver early because of the maternal condition becoming unstable, and the inability to nourish and maintain adequate oxygenation of the unborn child, Lagrew says.

    Moreover, the flu with fever is linked to a higher rate of birth defects, including spina bifida and cleft palate.

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    When Should I Get The Flu Vaccine

    Get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available in your area. The flu vaccine is proven safe, effective, and beneficial to you and your baby at any stage of pregnancy.

    When you get a flu vaccine during pregnancy, you make protective antibodies which are transferred to your baby. These antibodies protect your baby against the flu until they can get the vaccine at 6-months of age. Breastfeeding your baby also helps strengthen their immune system but is not a replacement for getting vaccinated.

    It is equally important that other people in your household are vaccinated against the flu during your pregnancy.

    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.

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    What Else Can I Do To Protect Myself From Getting The Flu

    Ask family, friends and caregivers who spend time with you and your baby to get a yearly flu vaccine to best protect your household. In addition, follow these easy steps:

    • Cover your cough/sneeze with your sleeve or tissues
    • Wash your hands with soap and warm water often
    • Disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently shared
    • Avoid frequent touching of your nose, mouth and eyes
    • Stay home from work or school if you show symptoms of being ill
    • Wear a cloth face covering when you are out in public

    Are There Any Other Important Vaccinations Pregnant People Should Get

    Should You Be Getting Vaccinations While Pregnant?

    The most important vaccines to get during pregnancy are the flu shot, the COVID-19 vaccine, and the Tdap vaccine, which can prevent tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, Dr. Pathak says.

    Heres why: COVID infection is dangerous for pregnant people and their unborn babies, so being vaccinated protects parent and baby, says Pathak. The Tdap vaccine is best to get during every pregnancy between 27 to 36 weeks. This helps protect the baby from whooping cough in the first few months after birth, when they are most at risk, Dr. Pathak adds.

    If youre still confused about the flu vaccine as well as other immunizations with regard to your pregnancy, check with your doctor about what is best for you before making an appointment.

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    How Can I Protect Myself And My Unborn Child From The Flu

    Get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available in your area. You will need to get the flu shot. The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. If you get the flu shot during your pregnancy, research shows it provides some protection to your baby both while you are pregnant and after the baby is born.

    In addition, follow the tips outlined below to keep you and your baby healthy this flu season.

    How Can I Protect My Baby Once He Or She Is Born

    Breastfeeding protects babies because breast milk passes your antibodies to your baby. The antibodies in breast milk help fight off infection. Studies show that babies who are breastfed do not get as sick and are sick less often than babies who are not breastfed.

    If you get the flu, do not stop breastfeeding. Unless directed by your health care provider, continue to nurse your baby while being treated for the flu.

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    Treatment And Postexposure Chemoprophylaxis In Pregnant Women

    Pregnant women are at high risk of serious complications of influenza infection such as intensive care unit admission, preterm delivery, and maternal death. Patients with flu-like illness should be treated with antiviral medications presumptively regardless of vaccination status. Treatment with oseltamivir is preferred however, if oseltamivir is unavailable, zanamivir may be substituted. Health care providers should not rely on test results to initiate treatment and should treat patients presumptively based on clinical evaluation 38.

    Because of the high potential for morbidity, the CDC and ACOG recommend that postexposure antiviral chemoprophylaxis be considered for pregnant women and women who are up to 2 weeks postpartum who have had close contact with someone likely to have been infected with influenza. If oseltamivir is unavailable, zanamivir can be substituted, two inhalations once daily for 10 days. All women who are pregnant or are in the first 2 weeks postpartum should be counseled to call for evaluation immediately if the early signs and symptoms of influenza infection develop 38. For more information about treatment and dosage see ACOG and the Society for MaternalFetal Medicines Seasonal Influenza Assessment and Treatment of Pregnant Women with Influenza-like Illness algorithm at

    Path To Improved Health

    Flu Shot During Pregnancy

    Its best to get your flu shot each year before or during October. This ensures that you are protected before flu season is at its peak.

    When you get a flu shot, the shot triggers your body to begin making antibodies to fight the viral infection. Antibodies are your bodys natural defense system used to help fight and kill harmful bacteria and viruses. It takes a few weeks after getting the flu shot for your body to develop the antibodies that will help ward off the flu. That is why it is important to get your flu shot in October or as soon as possible in the fall.

    The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that people 6 months and older should get a flu shot.

    It is also important that anyone in close contact with your newborn baby be vaccinated against the flu. Other family members or caregivers should all get flu shots. They should be vaccinated to help prevent possibly passing the flu to the baby.

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    How Is The Safety Of Flu Vaccines In Pregnant People Monitored

    CDC and FDA conduct ongoing safety monitoring of vaccines licensed for use in the United States.

    CDC and FDA monitor flu vaccine safety during pregnancy during each flu season using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System : An early warning system that helps CDC and FDA monitor health concerns following vaccination. Anyone can report possible vaccine side effects to VAERS. Generally, VAERS reports cannot determine if a health concern that arises after vaccination was caused by a vaccine, but these reports can help indicate if further investigations are needed.

    In addition CDC conducts research studies in the Vaccine Safety Datalink : A collaboration between CDC and nine health care organizations which allows ongoing monitoring and proactive searches of vaccine-related data.

    Does The Flu Shot Work

    Flu viruses shift and change, which means getting the vaccine right each year requires a lot of science, and a bit of luck. The World Health Organization keeps tabs on the flu virus strains circulating worldwide. This information is used to make vaccines that protect against either the three strains or the four strains predicted to be most common during the upcoming season.

    Somewhere in the middle of the flu season, we begin to get an estimate of success, but it depends on when the flu season starts, says Tam. Sometimes one strain begins and another one comes at the end. Different regions of Canada can also have different strains circulating.

    In Canada, the Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network found the 2017-2018 flu shot was 38 percent effective in preventing the flu, while the 2018-2019 flu shot was 56 percent effective.

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    Can Babies Get The Flu Shot

    Yes, if your baby is older than six months. Children who are between six months and nine years, and who are getting the flu vaccine for the very first time, will need two doses to increase effectiveness, about four weeks apart. Babies will get a lower dosage because of their smaller body weight, but will still need two doses. You may want to check ahead to ensure the clinic you are going to stocks the correct types of flu shots, appropriate to the ages of your kids.

    When my daughter got the flu shot for the first time last year, this meant one needle at a public flu clinic and a second one, by appointment, at a public health unit about a month later.

    Why Should I Get The Flu Shot

    Should I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine if I am Pregnant?
    • To save your LIFE. Because you’re pregnant, your risk of hospitalization or even death from the flu is higher than it is for most people.
    • To help protect your baby from getting the flu for up to six months after he or she is born. Babies younger than six months can’t get vaccinated against the flu.
    • To save time and money. You will lose fewer days to sickness.

    The flu vaccine is quick, easy and safe protection.

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    I Am Already Pregnant Is It Safe To Get The Flu Shot

    Yes. It is safe to get the flu vaccine at any stage before, during or after pregnancy. The CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend the vaccine for pregnant people.

    You should also get the whooping cough vaccine during the 3rd trimester of each pregnancy. Check with your doctor, nurse or clinic about which vaccines you may need. For more information visit our whooping cough vaccine page.

    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.

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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.

    The Crucial Reason Why Pregnant People Should *always* Get The Flu Shot

    Should I Get a Flu Shot While Pregnant?

    If youve been online lately, you know there’s an overload of info on vaccines and immunityand how they affect pregnancy. And one big question that pops up around flu season is: Can you get the flu vaccine during pregnancy?

    The CDC recommends that every single person six months and older get the influenza vaccine every single year . But here’s the thing: What if you’re pregnant? Children under six months shouldn’t get a flu shot, per the CDC. So what about a growing fetus?

    Any trimester during flu season is okay for the flu shot, explains Neha Pathak, MD, DipABLM, a board-certified internal medicine and lifestyle medicine physician and medical editor at WedMD. I’ve been pregnant three times and have gotten the flu shot in all different trimesters. For my baby that was born in the fall-winter time period, it felt especially good to know I was protecting her with antibodies even before she was born, Pathak explains.

    Check out more information below, for your peace of mind, from trusted experts.

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    Okay Are There Any Extra Precautions Pregnant Women Should Take

    Yepthe CDC, along with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists , suggests getting the actual flu shot, not the nasal spray.

    The nasal spray contains a live virus, says Dr. Urrutia. We dont recommend any vaccines with a live virus for pregnant people,” she says. That’s not necessarily because the spray will cause the flu, but because pregnant person’s immune systems are already lowered, so the active virus could potentially cause a slight fever.

    Keep in mind, however, that some people might still get a low-grade fever and feel slightly tired or achey even after the shot, says Dr. Urrutia, and thats normal. Your body is creating an immune response to the vaccine, she says. If your fever goes above 100, or you get other symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath, then get a medical appointment, ASAP.

    But from there, the precautions pregnant people should take are just like the precautions anyone else should heedwhich means not getting the flu shot if you’re allergic to it or if you’re ill with a fever .

    In addition to the shot, pregnant people should take the typical precautions for sidestepping the flu. That includes your regular germ-avoiding tactics, like washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and staying away from other sick people, says Dr. Urrutia.

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