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The Flu Shot and Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Many women this time of year wonder if the flu vaccine is safe if they are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Find out what a team of board-certified doctors had to say.

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant there are multitudes of warnings regarding what you can eat, medications you can take, and vaccines you can receive. But with flu season upon us, is the flu vaccination safe for pregnant women, or women who are trying to conceive?

The answer is a unanimous yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for anyone who is pregnant during flu season, which typically ranges from early October through late March.

Pregnancy puts extra stress on your heart and lungs and can affect your immune system. These factors increase the risk of getting the flu during pregnancy, as well as developing serious complications of the flu such as pneumonia and difficulty breathing.

“We highly recommend any woman who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant to get the flu shot every year,” says Dr. Elizabeth Scheff, a board certified OB/GYN of Healthy Woman OB/GYN.

Flu during pregnancy also seems to increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight. In a 2011 study, babies whose mothers had a flu shot during pregnancy were nearly 50 percent less likely to be diagnosed with the flu during their first flu season than were babies whose mothers didn't have a flu shot during pregnancy.

Healthy Woman OB/GYN, located in Freehold and Colts Neck, New Jersey, encourages all of their patients to get the flu vaccine each flu season.

“It is important for our patients to take preventative measures during flu season, and the flu vaccine is very safe for all our patients, both pregnant and not.” 

While the vaccination shot itself is very safe, and highly recommended, for pregnant and soon-to-be moms, women should not take the vaccination in the form of the nasal spray.

“The nasal spray is a live virus, meaning that when patients take the nasal form of the vaccine, they are taking a weakened form of a virus, which can be dangerous to both mother and baby,” says Dr. Elizabeth Scheff. “The vaccine is much safer, and we really recommend it during the flu season.”

Be sure to consult with your doctor before getting any type of vaccine, especially if you are pregnant or looking to become pregnant.

For more information about the flu vaccine, visit http://healthywomanusa.com/blog/is-the-flu-shot-safe-for-pregnant-women

For more information about Healthy Woman, visit http://www.healthywomanusa.com

For press inquiries, please contact Erin Ward at 732-984-9815 or by email eward@healthywomanusa.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Anne Shaw November 17, 2012 at 02:01 AM
the answer is not a unanimous yet - if you read the flu shot paperwork you will see that there are many warnings on it, and that flu shots are not tested on pregnant women (so how would they know if they are safe?)
Erin Ward November 19, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Hi Anne, thank you for your comment. Yes, both the CDC and ACOG recommend unanimously that pregnant women get the inactive flu vaccine for several reasons. Here is a link to the CDC inactive flu vaccination information statement for 2012-2013: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-flu.pdf Pregnant women who have the flu or high fevers are twice as likely to have a child with autism as those who do not. For this reason, the vaccine is highly recommended. Please see the article at this link: http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/12/15056697-flu-fever-linked-with-autism-in-pregnancy-study?lite Babies under the age of 6 months are also unable to receive the flu vaccination. To protect infants from the flu after birth, it is important to be vaccinated during pregnancy for the baby to get passive immunity in utero before birth. With all vaccines, there are risks of side effects. With all medical concerns, you should consult your doctor and find out what your options are. While the flu vaccine is safe for pregnant patients, there is a non-preservative vaccine option available. Please consult your doctor about how to obtain these vaccines.

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