In the U.S., flu season lasts from October until May and peaks in the month of February. Worse case scenario, the influenza virus can be deadly. But at the very least, the flu can take you out of commission for several days. Moms simply don't have the luxury to deal with battling the flu, especially if they are nursing. So then, when should a breastfeeding mom get the flu shot?
With rare exception, the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) recommended that all persons six months and older receive an annual influenza vaccination. The flu is especially dangerous for children under age five and people age 65 and older, according to Very Well. It spreads mainly by droplets that are made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk and can be transmitted from as far as six feet away. The CDC warned that healthy adults can infect others before their symptoms even develop, and up to seven days after becoming sick. In order to reduce the risk of children in your household catching the flu, it's important for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated – this includes pregnant and nursing moms. In fact, a breastfeeding mom who gets the flu shot may doubly protect her infant from the illness.
According to Baby Center, getting vaccinated while breastfeeding can protect your baby in two ways. First, it reduces your chance of getting sick and exposing your baby to the flu. Next, since it is possible to pass antibodies through your breast milk, you may actually pass your immunity to your baby. Therefore, the sooner you are vaccinated, the sooner your baby will be protected from the flu.
If you're not a fan of needles, you may be considering the nasal spray flu vaccine, also known as FluMist. Although the CDC suggested that the FluMist nasal vaccine is safe for breastfeeding women under age 50, Very Well noted that information that is provided in the FluMist package insert states that there is currently not enough information to know how safe the vaccine is to use during breastfeeding.
There's no doubt that it's a good idea to get the flu vaccine while breastfeeding, but before choosing between the injection and the nasal spray, talk to your doctor and discuss the pros and cons of each.