Pregnant? Get a Flu Shot

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On this page:
Should pregnant women be vaccinated for flu?
When should you get the flu vaccine?
Is flu vaccine safe?
What is influenza (flu)?
What are the symptoms of flu?
How is the flu different from a cold?
What should you do if you are pregnant and get sick with flu?
What else can you do if you or someone in your family has the flu?
What about the nasal vaccine, FluMist?
Can you get the flu from the flu shot?
What can you do to protect yourself and others?

Should pregnant women be vaccinated for flu?

Yes! It is especially important for you to get flu vaccine if you are pregnant.

Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in those who are not pregnant. When you are pregnant, changes in your immune system, heart, and lungs make you more prone to severe illness from flu – as well as to hospitalization and even death. Pregnant women who have chronic conditions, like asthma, have an even higher risk of complications of flu.

Pregnant women with flu also have a greater chance for serious problems for their unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery.

Getting a flu shot will protect you, your unborn baby, and even protect the baby after birth.

When should you get the flu vaccine?

For best protection, flu vaccine is usually given in the fall before flu season starts. But you can get it anytime during flu season – and anytime during your pregnancy.

Is flu vaccine safe?

Yes. The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. It is a safe way to help protect the mother and her unborn child from serious illness and complications of flu.

What is influenza (flu)?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that can be prevented by immunization. It is not the same as the "stomach flu." Flu is caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death.

Be sure to get a flu shot if you are pregnant. You can get it anytime during the flu season - and anytime during your pregnancy.

 

What are the symptoms of influenza?

Influenza symptoms come on quickly in the form of fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, stuffed-up nose, and body aches. These symptoms can be severe and put you in bed for several days.

How is the flu different from a cold?

A cold generally stays up in the head while the flu brings body aches, fever, and extreme fatigue. A person with a cold will usually keep up his or her normal activities, while someone with the flu will often feel too sick to do so.

What should you do if you are pregnant and get sick with the flu?

If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, call your doctor right away. If needed, the doctor will prescribe an antiviral medicine that treats the flu. Having a fever caused by flu or other infections early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects in an unborn child. A fever can be brought down with Tylenol (or a store brand equivalent), you still need to call your health care provider right away.

If you have any of these signs, call 911 right away:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or belly
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • High fever that doesn’t get better with Tylenol (or store brand equivalent)
  • Decreased or no movement of your baby

What else can you do if you or someone in your family has the flu?

  • Stay at home if you are ill.
  • Rest and drink lots of fluids. This will help your body recover from the infection.
  • Call your doctor or clinic about what to do if you are concerned.

What about the nasal vaccine, FluMist?

Pregnant women should not receive FluMist. But healthy people age 2 through 49 years have the option of receiving FluMist -- including contacts and caregivers of infants under 6 months of age.

Can you get the flu from the flu shot?

No. Some people do get mild flu-like symptoms for a short time after being vaccinated, but this is a sign that your body is responding to the vaccine and giving you protection. It is not the flu. Also, because there are many cold viruses circulating in the fall, it is possible that a person could be infected and become ill at the same time they receive the flu vaccine.

What can you do to protect yourself and others?

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Stay at home from school or work if you have a respiratory infection.
  • Avoid exposing yourself to others who are sick with a flu-like illness.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze. And then throw the tissue away.
  • If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Clean your hands often – with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based, waterless hand sanitizer.
  • If you have an infant, don't expose him or her unnecessarily to large crowds when influenza is in your community. And avoid close contact between the baby and family members who may have influenza (fever, muscle aches, runny nose, cough) or other respiratory infections.
  • Do not share anything that goes into the mouth such as drinking cups and straws.
  • Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces (door knob, refrigerator handle, phone, water faucets) if someone in the house has a cold or flu.

 

Updated Friday, 27-Sep-2013 08:56:39 CDT