Dr. Corissa Elgar talks about the importance of Flu Vaccinations for Pregnant Women.
It’s that time of year again: flu season. For many people, the flu is an inconvenience that makes you feel miserable for a few days, but for pregnant women, the threat of severe illness is greater. Normal changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women more susceptible to severe infection that can lead to hospitalization. Having the flu while pregnant can also be dangerous to the unborn baby leading to premature labor and delivery. The best way to protect pregnant women and their unborn babies is through receiving the flu shot. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as the CDC recommend that all pregnant women receive the flu shot.
The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women in any trimester. Getting the flu shot while pregnant can also help protect their infants younger than 6 months who are too young to receive the flu shot themselves. Pregnant women who receive the flu shot provide the unborn babies with the antibodies to protect themselves after they are born. The same applies to breastfeeding mothers who receive the flu shot. They can pass the antibodies on to their babies through breast milk. Some women may be worried about receiving the flu shot when they are pregnant because of the preservative that is used, but years of studies have shown that the trace amounts of preservatives in the flu vaccine are not harmful to pregnant women or their baby. The standard injection of the inactivated flu vaccine is recommended for all pregnant women. The only type of flu vaccine pregnant women should avoid is the nasal spray vaccine which is made with a live virus. The nasal spray can be used though if the woman has already given birth or if they are breastfeeding.
The best way a pregnant woman can protect herself and her baby is by receiving the flu vaccine. Please ask your doctor at your next visit about getting the flu vaccine.