Should I Get The Flu Shot While Pregnant?

You should get the flu shot while pregnant to protect yourself and your baby from complications from the flu. Influenza (the flu) 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:

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.

Should I get the flu shot while pregnant?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older—including pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding—get the flu vaccine each year. If you are pregnant, it is best to get the vaccine early in the flu season (October through May), as soon as the vaccine is available. You can get the shot at any time during your pregnancy. If you are not vaccinated early in the flu season, you still can get the vaccine later in the flu season. If you have a medical condition that further increases the risk of flu complications, such as asthma or heart disease, you should think about getting the vaccine before the flu season starts.

Which type of flu vaccine should I get?

There are two types of flu vaccines: 1) a shot and 2) a nasal mist. The flu shot contains a form of the flu virus that is inactivated. It cannot cause disease. The shot can be given to pregnant women at any time during pregnancy. A live, attenuated influenza vaccine is available as a nose spray. The nose spray vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. However, it is safe for women after they have given birth, including those who are breastfeeding.

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.

How often should I get the flu vaccine?

With some types of vaccines, the antibodies that are made remain active for many years. But the types of viruses that cause the flu can change every year. The antibodies made in response to one year’s flu vaccine may not work against the next year’s flu viruses. For this reason, the flu vaccine is updated each year. To be fully protected, you need to get the flu vaccine yearly.

How does getting the flu vaccine when I am pregnant help my baby?

The flu vaccine does “double duty” by protecting both you and your baby. Babies cannot get the flu vaccine until they are 6 months old. When you get a flu shot during pregnancy, the protective antibodies made in your body are transferred to your baby. These antibodies will protect your baby against the flu until he or she can get the vaccine at 6 months of age.

woman getting flu shot while pregnant

Are vaccines safe?

Vaccines are developed with the highest safety standards. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves all vaccines. The CDC continues to monitor all vaccines after they are approved. They have been used for many years in millions of pregnant women and are not known to cause pregnancy problems or birth defects.

Can vaccines made with thimerosal cause autism?

There is no scientific evidence that vaccines made with thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative, can cause autism or other health problems in babies. Thimerosal-containing vaccines do not cause autism in children born to women who received these vaccines. There is a flu vaccine made without thimerosal, but experts have not said that the thimerosal-free version is better for any particular group—including children and pregnant women.

Do vaccines have any side effects?

Most side effects of vaccines are mild, such as a sore arm or a low fever, and go away within a day or two. Severe side effects and reactions are rare. The CDC keeps track of side effects and reactions to all vaccines given in the United States. When you receive a vaccine, you should receive a Vaccine Information Statement. This statement lists the possible side effects of and reactions to that vaccine. If you have concerns about vaccine side effects, talk to your obstetrician or other member of your health care team.

What should I do if I get the flu while I am pregnant?

If you think you have the flu and you are pregnant (or you have had a baby within the past 2 weeks), contact your obstetrician or other health care professional right away. Taking an antiviral medication as soon as possible is recommended. Flu symptoms may include the following:

Antiviral medication is available by prescription. It is most effective when taken within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, but there still is some benefit to taking it up to 4–5 days after symptoms start. An antiviral drug does not cure the flu, but it can shorten how long it lasts and how severe it is. Even if you just think you have the flu, it is best to be on the safe side and contact your obstetrician or other member of your health care team.

What should I do if I come into close contact with someone who has the flu while I am pregnant?

You also should call your obstetrician or other health care professional if you are pregnant and come in close contact with someone who has the flu. This includes living with, caring for, or talking face-to-face with someone who may have the flu. You may be prescribed an antiviral drug to reduce the risk that you will get the flu.

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