Flu season makes just about everybody nervous, but pregnant women are in an especially vulnerable spot. You might be wary about getting the flu vaccine this year, or unsure if pregnant people can get the shot at all. Well, there are some potential reasons to get the flu shot while pregnant. For the most part, getting the shot can be a safe and positive choice for your health, as well as the health of your baby.
In fact, medical professionals advocate flu vaccines for pregnant women. "ACOG continues to recommend that all women receive the influenza vaccine. This is particularly important during pregnancy. Influenza vaccination is an essential element of prenatal care because pregnant women are at an increased risk of serious illness and mortality due to influenza," said Haywood L. Brown, M.D., president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). For the most part, the flu shot is a safe and healthy option for women who are expecting.
Of course, getting the flu shot is an individual decision for everyone. If you have particular concerns about the shot's effects on your health, or that of your baby's, then don't hesitate to discuss the matter with your healthcare professional. For the most part, though, flu shots can offer pregnant women many potential benefits.
1. Flu Prevention
OK, so this reason sounds like a no-brainer. But the flu is more likely to result in severe illness for women who are pregnant when compared to those who aren't expecting, according to the Mayo Clinic. In fact, pregnant women who get the flu also have a higher chance of requiring hospitalization, as further noted by the Mayo Clinic. It's a scary possibility that's easily prevented.
2. Flu Shot Is Generally Safe
It's super common for pregnant women to get the flu shot. In fact, millions of pregnant women have received the flu shot over the last several years, and a tremendous amount of scientific study supports the safety of flu shots for pregnant women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
3. Protection For Fetus
Getting the flu is potentially dangerous for the mother, and it can also pose a risk to the unborn baby. In fact, getting a high fever during early pregnancy may lead to birth defects for the baby, as noted in the Mayo Clinic. Also, fever is a common symptom of the flu.
4. Few Side Effects
In general, getting a flu shot won't make you feel bad. Really, the typical side effects of the flu vaccine include tenderness at the shot site, muscle aches, and nausea, according to MedlinePlus. For most people, it isn't a big deal.
5. Protect Newborn Baby
Newborns can't protect themselves from the flu in their first six months of life, as Laura E. Riley, MD, chair of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Immunization Expert Work Group, explained. However, infants are not able to get the flu vaccine until they're at least six months old. "The flu shot that mom gets causes her to produce antibodies which protect mom from the flu, and those antibodies also cross into the placenta and will protect the baby during those critical few months when the baby itself cannot get the flu shot," said Riley in the ACOG President's blog.
6. Flu Can Make You Sick Very Quickly
Of course, not all pregnant women who decide against getting a flu vaccine will even get the flu. But pregnant women can get sick from the flu very rapidly, even if the symptoms are mild at first, according to MedlinePlus. It's another reason to consider the vaccine.
7. Affordability & Availability
It's easier than ever to get a flu shot, and many vaccines are free. Urgent care centers, pharmacies such as Walgreens, and even some grocery stores provide free flu shots now, as noted in Health. Some cities even offer drive-thru flu shots for busy people on the go, as noted in Gov Tech. Even if your schedule is packed, flu shots are widely available and affordable for many people.