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 premature labor and delivery.
The Flu Shot is the Best Protection against Flu
Getting a flu shot is the first and most important step in protecting against flu. When given during pregnancy, the flu shot has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to 6 months old) from flu. The flu shot is safe to get at any time while you are pregnant, during any trimester. (The nasal spray vaccine should not be given to women who are pregnant.) An additional way to protect the baby is for all of the baby’s caregivers and close contacts (including parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents and babysitters) to get vaccinated against the flu.
When to Receive the Flu Vaccine
It is particularly important that women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season receive an inactivated flu vaccine as soon as it is available. The inactivated flu vaccine can be given to women at any point during their pregnancy. Live, attenuated flu vaccine is available as an intranasal spray and is not recommended for pregnant women, but is safe for use in women in the postpartum period. In the United States, the influenza season typically occurs from October through May. The preponderance of data overwhelmingly demonstrates the safety of flu vaccination during pregnancy.
The Flu Shot is Safe for Pregnant Women
Flu shots are a safe way to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from serious illness and complications of flu, like pneumonia. The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. It is very important for pregnant women to get the flu shot.
Other Preventive Actions
In addition to getting the flu shot, pregnant women should take additional every preventative actions.
Early Treatment is Important for Pregnant Women
If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, call your doctor right away. If needed, the doctor will prescribe an antiviral medicine that treats the flu.
Having a fever caused by flu infection or other infections early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects in an unborn child.
Pregnant women who get a fever should contact their doctor as soon as possible. If you have questions about the flu shot, please contact us here.