Fall is finally in the air. But, cooler temperatures also mean that flu season is on the horizon. Cases of the influenza virus are diagnosed year-round, but peak flu season typically occurs during the fall and winter from November to March. The time to get vaccinated is now, but is the flu shot safe during pregnancy?
Is it recommended?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both recommend that all pregnant women who are pregnant during flu season get the flu shot regardless of trimester.
While the FluMist nasal spray form of the vaccine has been approved for use for the 2018-2019 flu season, it is NOT recommended for expectant mothers. The flu shot is made from the inactivated (dead) flu virus, whereas the nasal mist is made from a live, but weakened version of the virus.
How it helps
Getting the flu shot during pregnancy is important for several reasons. Of course, it can help prevent the flu and any maternal complications that may arise from it, but it can also help prevent potential fetal health problems. Having a high fever during pregnancy can increase the risk of fetal birth defects.
The flu shot during pregnancy also provides protection for your baby after birth. Your baby cannot receive the flu vaccine itself until he or she is 6 months old. By getting the flu shot during pregnancy, the antibodies you develop are then passed onto your baby through the placenta and later breastmilk if you choose to breastfeed.
Not only is important for you to receive the flu vaccine during pregnancy, but you should also encourage anyone in your household or even those you come into contact with regularly (co-workers) to get their flu shot. This will help further reduce your risk of contracting the flu, and they’ll already be vaccinated when the baby arrives.
What if I still get the flu?
The flu shot is not 100% effective at preventing the flu, but getting the shot can help reduce the severity of the symptoms if you do contract it. Many over-the-counter medications that one would normally take to relieve flu symptoms are not safe to take during pregnancy. If you think you have the flu, contact your obstetrician immediately. The prescription antiviral medication is most effective within 48 hours from the onset of symptoms.
Where do I get the flu shot?
You can simply ask for the flu at your next prenatal appointment. Keep in mind, that the CDC recommends getting the flu shot as soon as possible and ideally before the end of October. If you need to schedule an appointment, call Raleigh OB/GYN Centre at (919) 876-8225.