Pregnant or Thinking About Getting Pregnant? You Need a Flu Shot

Flu shots are safe. They can be given during any trimester and will protect pregnant women and their unborn babies. They will even help protect the baby for up to 6 months after birth while the baby is too young to get a flu shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all adults receive an annual influenza vaccine. The CDC also recommends children age 6 months and older also receive a flu shot.

Influenza vaccination is an essential element of preconception, prenatal, and postpartum care because pregnant women are at an increased risk of serious illness due to seasonal and pandemic influenza.

Pregnant Women At Higher Risk For Flu Complications

Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in healthy women who are not pregnant. “Changes in your immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to get seriously ill from the flu,” explains Dr. Bruce Benninger, a board certified obstetrician/gynecologists with Antolin & Benninger Obstetrics Gynecology in New Castle. “Catching the flu also increases your chances for serious problems for your developing baby, including premature labor and delivery,” Dr. Benninger continues.

The flu shot is the best protection for you – and your baby.

“When you get your flu shot, your body starts to make antibodies that help protect you against the flu,” explains Dr. Romel Antolin, a board certified obstetrician/gynecologist and Dr. Benninger’s partner.

“Antibodies can be passed on to your developing baby, and help protect the baby several months after he or she is born,” Dr. Antolin continued. This is important because babies younger than 6 months of age are too young to get a flu vaccine. If you breastfeed your infant, antibodies may also be passed through breast milk. It takes about two weeks to make antibodies after getting a flu vaccine.

The flu shot is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women and their infants.

Millions of pregnant women have gotten a flu shot.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their developing babies.

Anyone caring for your baby needs a flu shot.

If you have your baby before getting your flu shot, you still need to get vaccinated. You, or others who care for your baby, may get the flu and pass it to the baby. Because babies younger than 6 months are too young to receive the vaccine, it is important that everyone who cares for your baby get a flu vaccine.

If you have flu symptoms, call your doctor immediately.

If you have flu-like symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, body aches headache, etc.) – even if you have already had a flu shot – call your doctor, nurse, or clinic right away. Because pregnant women are at high risk of serious flu complications, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend they be treated quickly with antiviral drugs if they get flu symptoms. Tamiflu® (oral oseltamivir) is the preferred treatment for pregnant women because it has the most studies available to suggest that it is safe and beneficial. These medicines work best when started early.

For more information about the influenza virus, the flu vaccine, and treatment and prevention of the flu, visit cdc.gov/flu and follow Henry Community Health on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and GooglePlus this flu season.