A little girl presses her ear to a pregnant woman's belly.

Get the flu shot during pregnancy to protect you and your baby

AUG 10, 2017
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If you’re pregnant, you may notice that you’re thinking about your health differently. There are good reasons for that, of course. You’re not only taking care of your own health as your body changes, but you’re also looking after a new life.

 

“That’s why getting your annual flu vaccination is even more important during pregnancy. It’s a quick, simple thing you can do to help prevent serious health issues both for yourself and your baby,” says Dr. Kari L. Carlson, MD, chief of Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Kaiser Permanente’s Redwood City Medical Center.

 

With the start of flu season just a few weeks away, Dr. Carlson took some time to answer these common questions about flu vaccination during pregnancy.

 

What happens if I get the flu while I’m pregnant?

 

Your body has a harder time fighting off infections during pregnancy, so the flu is more likely to make you seriously ill. Risks include developing severe breathing problems which could lead to hospitalization. Other flu symptoms such as a high fever could affect your developing baby, and increase the chance of preterm birth and other complications.

 

How does the flu shot protect my baby?

 

After you get vaccinated, your body will create antibodies that will pass to your developing baby. Since infants are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill from the flu, but can’t get a flu shot until they’re 6 months old, vaccination during pregnancy is the best way to protect your baby from getting the flu.

 

Getting the flu shot has been shown to protect both you and your baby from flu for several months after you give birth.

 

Is the flu shot safe for pregnant women?

 

Yes. The flu shot is an inactivated virus vaccine. This means that it can’t cause infection from flu.

 

Will getting the flu shot make me sick, or give me side effects?

 

There is no increased risk of illness from getting the flu shot during pregnancy. It’s possible you may experience the mild side effects that sometimes occur after getting a flu shot, such as soreness around the injection site, muscle aches, fatigue, or nausea.

 

When is the best time for me to get the flu shot?

 

As soon as it becomes available for flu season, at any point during your pregnancy.

 

Should other people in my family get vaccinated?

 

Yes, it’s important that other people who live with or care for your newborn get a flu shot as well. Not only will they be protected, but that way they won’t give the flu to your baby before he or she is old enough to be vaccinated.

 

Learn more about how to stay healthy during flu season.

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