Pregnancy and the Flu Shot

The dreaded flu season is almost upon us, and you might be wondering if and when you should get a flu shot. The CDC now recommends flu vaccines for everyone over the age of 6 months old - including pregnant women. 

Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum) more prone to severe illness from flu, as well as to hospitalizations, and even death. Pregnant women with flu also have a greater chance for serious problems for their unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery.

Flu shots are a safe way to protect the mother and her unborn child from serious illness and complications of flu. The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years and has not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to 6 months old) from flu.  

The seasonal flu vaccine is different every year because the formula is changed based on what experts believe are the strains most likely to cause illness the following season. Therefore, it is important to get a flu shot every year. 

Seasonal flu shots generally become available in the fall, between September and November. You should get a flu shot as soon as it becomes available if you are at high risk for the flu, although December and even later is not too late to get one. The vaccine takes two weeks to become effective after it is given. 

Most side effects experienced are minor. Some of the more common side effects include: 

  • Low grade fever 
  • Soreness at injection site 
  • Decreased energy 

 If you are pregnant and wondering if the flu shot is right for your, talk to your doctor at your next visit. Drs. Strebel and Grolle can help you decide how to best protect yourself and your baby from the flu. 

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