Pregnant? Get a Flu Shot - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Pregnant? Get a Flu Shot

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On this page:
Should pregnant women be vaccinated against flu?
When should you get the flu vaccine?
Is flu vaccine safe?
What is 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?
Can you get the flu from the flu shot?

What can you do to protect yourself and others?

Should pregnant women be vaccinated against flu?

Yes! It is especially important for you to get a flu shot if you are pregnant or are newly postpartum. Getting a flu shot will help protect you and your developing baby. It even protects your baby 6 months after birth, while he or she is too young to get their own flu vaccine.

Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women 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. If you have chronic conditions, like asthma or diabetes, your risk of complications is even higher. Pregnant women who get sick with the flu may also have a greater chance for serious problems for their developing baby, including premature labor and delivery.

When should you get the flu vaccine?

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 a mother and her developing baby from serious illness and complications of flu.

What is flu?

Flu (influenza) is a contagious respiratory disease. 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.

Getting a flu shot is the most important step in protecting pregnant women and their babies against the flu.

What are the symptoms of flu?

Flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, and body aches. These symptoms come on quickly and can be severe keeping you in bed for several days.

How is the flu different from a cold?

Colds are generally less serious than the flu. With a cold, you’re more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose, while the flu causes body aches, fever, and extreme fatigue. A person with a cold can usually keep up with their normal activities, but someone with the flu can't. Colds usually do not result in serious health problems like pneumonia, bacterial infections, and hospitalization, but flu can.

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

If you get sick with flu-like symptoms--even if you have already had a flu shot--call your doctor or clinic 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 a developing baby. A fever can be brought down with Tylenol (or a store brand equivalent); but you still need to call your doctor or clinic right away.

If you have any of these symptoms, 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

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. It is not the flu. Also, because there are many cold viruses circulating in the fall, it is possible to be infected and become ill at the same time they receive the flu shot.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Ask anyone who will have close contact with you or your infant to be 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.
  • Wash 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 flu is in your community. And avoid close contact between the baby and family members who may have the flu 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 Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 01:51PM