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You, Pregnancy and the Flu
The influenza virus (the flu) is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant.
This is due to normal changes in the lungs, heart, and immune system during pregnancy.
These changes make it easier for the flu virus to invade a pregnant woman’s body, putting her and her unborn baby at increased risk for flu related complications such as pneumonia, preterm labor, preterm delivery, fetal or newborn infection, birth defects related to prolonged maternal fever, or maternal or perinatal death.
It is important that all expectant mothers know the number one preventive measure to reduce the risk of flu related complications during pregnancy to her and her unborn baby, is to receive a flu shot vaccination during pregnancy.
Medical studies consistently demonstrate that receiving the flu vaccine during pregnancy reduces a pregnant woman’s risk of obtaining a severe flu related illness.
In addition, multiple studies confirm that babies of mothers who received flu vaccine during pregnancy were less likely to catch the flu virus after birth, were less likely to be born prematurely, and were less likely to be hospitalized from the flu in the first year of life. Studies also show that babies of mothers who received flu vaccine during pregnancy had fewer cases of respiratory illness with fever.
Because of these facts, the recommendation for flu vaccine to be given to all pregnant patients is supported by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG), the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Flu vaccine has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years, and its safety for use in any trimester of pregnancy has been verified. The flu vaccine is also safe to be given during breastfeeding.
Thimerosal, a preservative used in the preparation of the flu vaccine is also safe for use during any stage of pregnancy or for use during breastfeeding. Thimerosal free vaccines are also available.
Common side effects of flu vaccination include soreness, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection. Rarely, fatigue, low grade fever, or muscle aches may occur.
Patients who should not receive a flu vaccine include those with an allergy to eggs, a history of an allergic reaction from a prior flu shot, or a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a neurologic disorder). If you have a current illness with fever, it is recommended you wait and receive your vaccination when you feel better.
You are your baby’s best protection against flu related complications during pregnancy. Help your baby and yourself and discuss receiving a flu vaccine with your health provider today.
Northwest Women's Consultants
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