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Should You Get a Flu Shot While Pregnant?

Flu Shot While Pregnant

You’ve probably asked yourself this question before: should you get a flu shot while pregnant? The answer isn’t as simple as it seems, because there are some conflicting opinions on whether it’s safe to get an influenza vaccination while pregnant, and what the risk to the fetus would be if you did. If you’re wondering about the safety of getting the flu vaccine when pregnant, here’s everything you need to know.

What is the flu?

The flu is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by different strains of influenza viruses. The body’s response to the virus causes swelling in the mucous membranes lining the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause fever, headache, chills, and body aches. People with certain medical conditions or who are over 65 years old are especially susceptible to complications from the flu.

Flu Shot While Pregnant

Is it safe to get a flu shot when you are pregnant?

It is safe to get a flu shot while pregnant. The influenza vaccine has been found to be safe and effective in pregnant women, and should be considered during any stage of pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all pregnant women receive the flu vaccine as it provides protection against the influenza virus to both mother and baby. There are no known risks associated with getting the flu shot while pregnant, so it is important that you do not delay if you are considering getting the vaccine.

What about low-risk vs high-risk situations?

If you’re pregnant and have never been vaccinated before, you should get the vaccine. The vaccine is safe for pregnant women, but it’s important to note that there may be some risk to the baby. If your pregnancy has been normal so far and you are not sick with flu-like symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about whether or not it’s necessary for you to get the shot.

If there is any chance that you may be at risk of complications from the flu, then getting vaccinated would be wise.

Why does your healthcare provider ask about pregnancy when vaccinating you against the flu?

Some people are at high risk of flu-related complications, like pregnant women. If you’re pregnant and not immune to the flu, then getting the vaccine is your best protection against it. It also protects your newborn baby from getting the flu after birth or in the early days of life. Getting the vaccine when you’re pregnant may also protect you and your unborn baby against other illnesses like pneumonia or bronchitis that can be serious for both of you. For example, if you have asthma or diabetes, then getting vaccinated will help protect your unborn baby from these conditions too. The vaccine is safe for most people who are pregnant.

Getting vaccinated during pregnancy can protect your baby from getting sick later on:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women get the flu shot to protect themselves and their unborn babies. Though it sounds like common sense, some pregnant women hesitate because they fear that the shots will harm the fetus. But there are no studies showing that getting the flu vaccine while pregnant is harmful to the fetus or newborn. Plus, getting vaccinated during pregnancy can protect your baby from getting sick later on. For example, if you’re exposed to influenza in your third trimester and you’re not vaccinated, your baby is more likely to be hospitalized with severe respiratory disease.

Vaccines that are routinely recommended during pregnancy include:

  • Flu (influenza) shot. The flu shot is recommended for people who are pregnant during flu season. The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus, so it’s safe for both you and your baby. Avoid the influenza nasal spray vaccine, which is made from a live virus.
  • Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine. One dose of Tdap vaccine is recommended during each pregnancy, regardless of when you had your last Tdap or tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccination. Receiving the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy helps protect your newborn from whooping cough (pertussis). Ideally, the vaccine should be given between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Additionally, if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the COVID-19 vaccine is recommended. Studies have shown COVID-19 vaccines don’t pose any serious risks for people who are pregnant or their babies. If you become pregnant after receiving the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses, it’s recommended that you get your second shot. It’s also recommended that pregnant people receive a COVID-19 booster shot when it’s time. If possible, people who live with you also should be vaccinated against COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of disease.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine, the flu shot and the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy can protect you from infection and can also help protect your newborn after birth before your baby can be vaccinated. This is important because babies under age 1 might be at increased risk of severe illness with COVID-19 when compared with older children. Also, the flu and whooping cough can be particularly dangerous for infants.

Your healthcare provider might also recommend other vaccines during pregnancy if you’re at increased risk of certain infections — such as the hepatitis B vaccine.

Your healthcare provider will recommend avoiding vaccines that contain live viruses during pregnancy because they might pose a risk to a developing baby. Examples of vaccines that contain live viruses and aren’t recommended during pregnancy include:

  • Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine

Although the new shingles vaccine (Shingrix) doesn’t contain the live virus, it’s recommended that pregnant people delay vaccination.

If you’re planning a pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider about any vaccines you might need beforehand.

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