Women, Wellness, & Wisdom

Important Facts About The Flu And Flu Shot In Pregnancy

Important Facts About The Flu And Flu Shot In Pregnancy

Important Facts About The Flu And Flu Shot In Pregnancy

By Vandna Jerath, MD

  • Pregnant women are more prone to severe illness and pregnancy complications from the flu.
  • Physiologic changes and an altered immune system in pregnancy make pregnant women high-risk candidates for the flu.
  • In pregnancy, the flu can cause dehydration, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), miscarriage, preterm labor, or preterm delivery and birth.
  • In 2009, pregnant women accounted for only 1% of the population, but 6% of H1N1 related deaths.
  • ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommends that ALL pregnant women receive the flu shot.
  • Influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu – it can reduce your risk of catching the flu by 70-90% and decrease your risk of hospitalization or death by 50-80%. 
  • Vaccination during pregnancy protects both the mother and her infant (up to 6 months of age).
  • Influenza vaccine is SAFE as it has been given to millions of pregnant women and has not demonstrated harm to women or their infants.
  • The flu shot can be given to pregnant women in ANY trimester.
  • Pregnant women should receive the inactivated vaccine (killed virus) or flu shot, but NOT the nasal spray vaccine (live attenuated virus) which is contraindicated.
  • Postpartum women – especially within two weeks after pregnancy or pregnancy loss – should also receive the flu vaccine and may receive either the shot or nasal spray.
  • Women who are breastfeeding are encouraged to receive either type of vaccine and can pass antibodies via the breast milk to their infants that may provide passive immunity.  This is one of the best ways to protect infants under 6 months of age, who are too young to be vaccinated.
  • If preferred, a thimerosal free version of the flu shot is available.
  • Women with an egg allergy or who are actively ill with a fever should not get the flu shot.
  • Influenza vaccination is an essential part of prenatal care and recommended for all pregnant, breastfeeding, or postpartum women.
  • Please talk to your doctor about getting your flu shot.



Photo Credit: ACOG

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