Pregnant? Get a Flu Shot

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On this page:
What is influenza (flu)?
Should pregnant women be vaccinated against flu?
When should you get the flu vaccine?
Is flu vaccine safe?
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?
Can pregnant women get the nasal spray flu vaccine?
What can you do to protect yourself?

What is influenza (flu)?

Influenza (flu) is a respiratory disease caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. It can be mild, but is sometimes severe and at times can lead to death. It is not the same as the “stomach flu.”

Should pregnant women be vaccinated against flu?

Yes! Getting a flu shot is an important part of having a healthy pregnancy.

It is especially important for you to get flu vaccine if you are pregnant or are newly postpartum. Pregnant women can become seriously ill from getting the flu. When you are pregnant, changes in your immune system, heart, and lungs make you more prone to severe illness, including hospitalization and death. Women who get a flu shot during pregnancy are less likely to go into early labor, and their babies are less likely to be stillborn, born at a low birth weight, or hospitalized after birth.

After a pregnant woman gets flu vaccine, she passes along protection to her baby. This protects her baby from flu during the first few months of life until the baby can get vaccinated.

When should you get the flu vaccine?

For best protection, flu vaccine is usually given in early fall before flu season starts. But you can get it anytime during flu season, which is typically October through April, and anytime during your pregnancy.

Is flu vaccine safe?

Yes. It is safe for a pregnant woman to receive the flu shot at any time during her pregnancy, and it will not harm her unborn baby. The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years. It is a safe way to help protect a mother and her unborn child from serious illness and complications of 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, call your doctor right away. The doctor may 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); but you still need to call your health care provider right away. After you’ve talked to your doctor, stay at home, avoid contact with others, rest, and drink lots of fluids.

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 a slight fever or runny nose 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 viruses circulating in the fall, it is possible that a person could get sick with a different virus around the same time they receive the flu vaccine.

Can pregnant women get the nasal spray flu vaccine?

No. Pregnant women should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine, but they can safely receive the traditional flu shot any time during their pregnancy.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Avoid being around others who are sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water, or an alcohol-based, waterless hand sanitizer.
  • Do not share drinking cups and straws.
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces often (door knobs, refrigerator handles, phones, and water faucets).

Updated Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 08:45AM