It’s flu season—which means you’ll be hearing about the importance of flu shots for months to come.
Experts say everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated each year to protect against the flu, including pregnant women.
Is it safe to get a flu shot if I’m pregnant?
Dr. Kilpatrick: Absolutely—every pregnant woman should get a flu shot during flu season.
“You’re protecting yourself and you’re protecting your baby.”
What are the benefits?
Dr. Kilpatrick: The benefits are particularly important in pregnancy. First, getting a flu shot significantly reduces your risk of getting flu for that season.
Second, if you do get the flu and you had the flu shot, you’re likely to not be as sick.
Lastly, pregnant women actually get sicker with the flu than non-pregnant women. The chance of needing to be hospitalized, developing pneumonia, and the chance of dying are all higher in pregnant women if they get the flu.
Additionally, if a pregnant mother gets a flu shot, it’s less likely that her newborn would get the flu, because the newborn now has their mom’s antibodies. You’re protecting yourself and you’re protecting your baby.
Read: Is It a Cold or the Flu?
Is there a link between flu shots and miscarriage?
Dr. Kilpatrick: The best data suggests that there’s not a significant link between flu shots and miscarriage.
What are the side effects and risks that I’m taking if I get a flu shot while pregnant?
Dr. Kilpatrick: The side effects and risks are the same as any other time you get a flu shot.
The shot can be a little painful, but not terrible. If you have an egg allergy, you shouldn’t get a flu shot. It’s a common misconception that the flu shot causes the flu—this is not true.
Can breastfeeding women get flu shots?
Dr. Kilpatrick: Yes, breastfeeding women can get the flu shot.
If I decide not to get the shot, am I putting my baby at risk?
Dr. Kilpatrick: You’re putting yourself at most risk. You’re also theoretically putting the newborn at risk, because the baby will be born with no flu antibodies, and then the baby has a higher risk of getting the flu.
“If you see your doctor during flu season, make sure to ask for a flu shot, because it’s the best thing for you and your baby.”
When should I get the shot?
Dr. Kilpatrick: Anytime. If you’re pregnant during flu season during any trimester, you should get the shot.
Is there anything else I need to know about getting the flu shot while pregnant?
Dr. Kilpatrick: It’s really important for women to advocate for themselves about this. Your OB/GYN or primary care doctor may forget to remind you. If you see your doctor during flu season, make sure to ask for a flu shot, because it’s the best thing for you and your baby.
Another thing to remember is that if you have other children at home and you get the flu, you’re at risk for giving it to your other kids. So if you get a flu shot, you’re less likely to get the flu, and therefore less likely to get your other kids sick.