Ideally, all women who are pregnant, might be pregnant, or are breastfeeding during flu season should receive the inactivated flu vaccine, regardless of their stage of pregnancy. The flu shot is an essential part of prenatal care because pregnant women are at an increased risk of serious illness and even mortality due to influenza.
The best time to get vaccinated is early in the flu season (October), before flu is widespread in the community. It takes about 2 weeks for the body to build up protective antibodies after getting the flu shot. Multiple published studies, as well as years of clinical experience, have supported that the flu vaccine is safe and effective during pregnancy.
What are Symptoms of Influenza (the Flu)?
Influenza is a virus, but more than just a bad cold. Onset is usually sudden. Flu symptoms may include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, body aches, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose. It can lead to life threatening complications such as pneumonia.
Influenza is primarily a respiratory infection, and is not the same as the “stomach flu”, which usually refers to a virus causing vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
Is it Safe to Get the Flu Shot During Pregnancy? Yes
Inactivated influenza vaccines are safe for pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves all vaccines and they are developed with the highest safety standards.
Flu shots have been given to millions of pregnant women at women's clinics over many years with a good safety record. Multiple scientific studies have evaluated and support the safety of the inactivated flu vaccine during pregnancy and have not demonstrated increased risks of either maternal complications or adverse fetal outcomes.
Vaccine Side Effects
Most side effects are mild and go away within a day or two, and may consist of a sore arm or possibly a low grade fever. Severe side effects or reactions are rare. Getting the flu vaccine does not cause the flu.
What Should I do if I Get the Flu During Pregnancy?
Women who are pregnant (or have had a baby in the last 2 weeks) and think they have the flu should contact a health care provider right away. Taking an antiviral medication as soon as possible is recommended—it is most effective when taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Antiviral medication will not cure the flu, but it can shorten how long it lasts and how severe it is.
Pregnant women who come into close contact with someone who has the flu (i.e. someone you live with, work with, or talk face-to-face with) should also contact a health care provider. Antiviral medication may still be prescribed to reduce the risk of getting the flu.
Get Your Flu Shot at Metro OBGYN
Flu viruses are continuously changing, and this season's vaccines have been updated to protect against the viruses that will be most common this year. Additionally, your immune protection from a vaccine declines over time, so annual flu shots are needed for the best protection against the flu.
Request an appointment with Metro OBGYN to receive your flu shot!