Wellness & Education

Wellness & Education

I'm Pregnant; Do I Really Need a Flu Shot?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Flu spreads mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Most healthy adults can infect others starting a day before symptoms develop and up to a week after becoming sick. Flu season usually lasts October through May, although it may start earlier.

What is in the flu shot?

The flu shot contains inactive flu strains (or killed virus) predicted to cause infection in a particular flu season. The 2012-2013 flu vaccine contains inactive H1N1, as well as two other flu viruses (an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus) that research suggests will be most common this year. The H1N1 strain is the the same as in the 2011-2012 vaccine and the other two strains are new for this year. Antibodies made in response to vaccination with one strain of flu viruses can provide protection against different, but related strains, as well. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop in your body to protect you against flu virus infection. Women’s Healthcare Associates uses preservative-free flu vaccine. Read more about the 2012-2013 flu vaccine > 

Why is the flu shot recommended for pregnant women?

Importance of the Flu Shot While PregnantPregnancy alters the immune system and may cause changes to the heart and lungs that make pregnant women more prone to severe infection. The flu shot effectively prevents pregnant women from getting the flu, and also passes immunity on to their newborns. This is particularly important because children younger than six months of age are the most likely to have flu-related complications but they are too young to be vaccinated. Read more about pregnancy and the flu vaccine >

Is the flu shot safe during pregnancy?

Eleven studies have evaluated the outcome of getting the flu shot during pregnancy and none demonstrated an increased risk of complications in moms or their babies.

Who should or should not be vaccinated?

The CDC recommends everyone over the age of six months receive a flu shot. People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs, a fever or who have had a previous allergic or severe reaction to a vaccination should not get the flu shot.

Are there any side effects from the flu vaccine?

Side effects include soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, low grade fever or body aches. If these problems occur, they begin soon after vaccination and usually last one or two days. The viruses in the flu shot are inactivated so they do not cause the flu nor will you give the flu to anyone around you.

In summary...

Know that getting vaccinated is one way to protect your newborn from the flu. As a pregnant woman, you are more likely to get sicker from the flu. If you have other children, it can be hard to care for them if you are sick. We offer the flu shot to all pregnant women in our care, but the decision is still yours to make. If you decide that you want a flu shot, we will be happy to give it to you at your next appointment.

Contact an office to ask about getting your flu vaccine > Julia St. Lawrence, Certified Nurse Midwife - Oregon City, Oregon

Julia St. Lawrence is a certified nurse midwife in the Oregon City and Canby, Oregon offices of Women’s Healthcare Associates. In addition to prenatal care, Julia enjoys helping women throughout their lives with gynecological care, family planning and preventive care. She attended Columbia University in New York City where she obtained degrees in nursing and midwifery.

Sources: Image - Women and Teens Healthcare