THOMAS LOHNES/DDP/Getty Images

Doctors Urge Pregnant Women To Get The Flu Shot, & Here's Why

By
Share
Ad failed to load

For many years, pregnant women have been given the same, clear message at the start of flu season: The flu shot is a safe, effective way to avoid getting sick with no risk for a developing fetus. That message — backed by several large-scale studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other expert health agencies — was called into question last week when a new study seemed to point to a link between the influenza vaccine and early miscarriage in some women. But even in light of those new findings — along with a strong disclaimer that much more research is still needed in this area — doctors and experts are still urging pregnant women to get the flu shot this season, according to a new NPR report.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, for instance, quickly published a statement to remind both women and their physicians that the flu shot is essential:  

Ad failed to load

But, let's back up a bit. How did the health community get here and why is the safety of the flu vaccine during pregnancy up for debate?

According to a segment this week on NPR's Morning Edition, the CDC published a study a few years back examining the relationship between flu vaccines and early miscarriage. In it, the research team looked at women who received the vaccine and were pregnant between 2005 and 2007. That study found no association between the flu shot and early pregnancy loss, NPR reported.

Ad failed to load

So, why the need for a second study? Lead author James Donahue, a senior epidemiologist at the Marshfield Clinic, told NPR that it was because after the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the formulation of the flu vaccine changed. Once pregnant women started receiving a different vaccine, the team needed to conduct the study again.

“The CDC was very interested to make sure that we were still seeing the same safety profile for this new vaccine,” Donahue told Morning Edition. “And so [they] asked us to do another study.”

Still, the researchers told The Washington Post they were surprised by what the second study uncovered. According to that report, the same research team looked at the cases of nearly 1,000 women over two flu seasons to determine if there was any possible link between the influenza vaccine and early pregnancy loss.

Ad failed to load
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

This time, however, the team surveyed patients after the vaccine formula changed to respond to H1N1; the study included 485 pregnant patients, age 18-44, and 485 women who experienced miscarriages during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 flu seasons, according to The Washington Post. Of the women who had an early pregnancy loss, 17 had reportedly gotten the flu vaccine in the 28 days beforehand and in the prior flu season. Of the women who went on to deliver, only four who had gotten the vaccine in the 28 days prior to being surveyed also got the shot in the prior flu season.

The connection was weak, the researchers told The Washington Post, but well worth further study. Amanda Cohn, senior adviser for vaccines at the CDC told the newspaper that it was important for the team to offer patients full disclosure of potential risk, even if the exact connection wasn’t yet clear. According to The Washington Post, Cohn said:  

Ad failed to load
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images

To help patients who might have concerns, the CDC has posted guidance on its website to specifically address the findings in this latest study.

Ad failed to load

Although this study quickly caused an uproar among anti-vaxxers and concerned expectant mothers, doctors are still urging pregnant women to get a flu shot each season because contracting the flu during pregnancy can be far more serious.

In its guidelines for protecting women from the flu during pregnancy, the March of Dimes website outlined the intense stress that pregnancy places on the body. For starters, when you’re pregnant, your immune system doesn’t respond as rapidly to disease, according to the March of Dimes website. And so, in pregnant women the symptoms of the flu can become severe much more quickly. Fever, dehydration, and other common concerns can become dangerous if a woman is pregnant, according to the CDC, making it more likely that pregnant women who get the flu will be hospitalized.

With all that in mind, the message from both the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is clear: Pregnant women should receive the flu vaccine this year and every year after, unless new, concrete evidence gives a reason to advice something different.

Ad failed to load

Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Umm, Toys "R" Us Has A BOGO 50 Percent Off Deal So You Better Stock Up

After the holidays, you were probably hoping that your kid's massive toy collection would keep him entertained for a little while, at least. But that was wishful thinking, wasn't it? Because now that a couple of months have passed, all those must-hav…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

A Hot Mess Mom's Guide To Surviving Winter

As I sit here at my home office in Connecticut, it's cold. Damn cold. Winter is a rough season in New England and it's even worse when you're a parent and have to manage cooped up, restless children. It's even worse when you're a hot mess as it is, u…
By Jamie Kenney

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

8 Reasons I Let My Toddler Play Outside Unsupervised

I'm not a helicopter mom, but I'm not exactly a free-range parent either. I like to think of myself as safely ensconced somewhere in the middle. I insist on certain safety measures, like car seats and helmets. I prefer to keep my 2-year-old in my sig…
By Kimmie Fink

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack