Even if you hate shots or you’re wary of vaccines, pregnancy is the time to put those fears aside. It’s not just your own health you’re protecting, but your unborn baby’s health, too. Learn why the flu shot is vitally important during pregnancy.
Recommendations & risks
Unless you’ve had a serious reaction to the flu vaccine in the past, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all women who are pregnant during flu season get the flu shot.
The reasoning is pretty simple: Pregnancy can lower a woman’s immune system while increasing stress on her heart and lungs. Influenza is a respiratory illness that also stresses the heart and lungs; when a pregnant woman comes down with the flu, she’s at a greater risk for complications, hospitalizations and even death. The CDC also notes that her risk for miscarriage or preterm birth can increase substantially. If you don’t want to risk the complications that can arise from a bout with the flu during pregnancy, get the flu shot. It’s the single best way to prevent getting the virus.
The flu shot’s safety
If Dr. David Farman, emergency medicine physician from Hendricks Regional Health in Danville, Indiana, could stress only one thing about the flu vaccine, it’s that it is safe for pregnant women. In fact, it’s safe for all family members over 6 months. Failing to take this basic step toward protecting your family can put you, your relatives, your neighbors and coworkers at risk for serious illness.
Pregnant women should opt for the shot rather than the nasal spray for flu protection. This is because the shot is made from a killed virus, while the nasal spray is made from a live virus, according to the CDC.
As if staying healthy throughout pregnancy weren’t benefit enough, the flu shot’s preventative benefits actually extend to your newborn baby. “The flu shot won’t hurt the baby, and the antibodies that the mom forms against the virus will actually pass through the placenta to the baby and help protect the baby from the flu early in its life. In short, the flu shot affects the baby in only positive ways,” says Farman. Now, that’s a good reason to get vaccinated.