Despite a slew of articles and myths out there that claim the flu shot is dangerous for an expectant mother, new research has proven again that the vaccine is important for pregnant women and their babies. Especially because soon-to-be mothers and their little ones are among those most at risk for complications, hospitalization, and death from the flu, researchers suggest that it’s actually beneficial for them to receive a flu shot while they’re pregnant.
After they administered the flu vaccine to 141 pregnant women, researchers from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that the vaccine was incredibly protective, according to a press release. Of those women, 91 of them received a flu shot in the previous year and 50 of them had not. They ultimately found that women who hadn’t received a flu shot in the previous year had "better initial immune responses" to the vaccine, while those who had received a flu shot the previous year, their "peak antibody responses were weakened," the press release noted.
They took things further to see how the flu vaccination might affect babies while in the womb by testing blood from the umbilical cord and from the mothers during pregnancy and upon delivery.
"We launched this study to not only track how prior vaccination affects immune responses in expectant mothers, but also to see whether it affects how well antibodies against the flu are transferred from the mother to the baby," said Lisa Christian, a lead researcher of the study from the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University, according to the press release. She continued:
The good news is that we found that the benefits of maternal vaccination for the baby were not affected by prior vaccination in the mothers.
These findings further debunk what junk science has said about getting the flu shot during pregnancy. Some myths have claimed that the flu vaccine is full of harmful toxins that can hurt a developing fetus, that it causes autism, and, in turn, can make you ill with the flu instead of preventing it.
But, there is zero evidence out there that the influenza vaccination causes autism or any other type of developmental disorder. And you can't catch the flu from the vaccine — if you get sick with the flu after getting the vaccine, it's because you were already infected with the virus, according to Harvard Medical School.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women get a flu shot "during any trimester of their pregnancy to protect themselves and their newborn babies from flu."
The study's researchers emphasized that all women should get the flu shot during pregnancy because it's the only way to protect their babies from coming down with the flu in the first few months of life. And once they are 6 months old, they can get their own flu shots.
The flu can be dangerous — especially when you’re expecting — and now there's even more reason not to think twice before getting vaccinated each year.