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Is it safe to get a flu shot while pregnant?

Protect yourself and your newborn baby from the flu.

By Joy Beissel, MD
October 19, 2017

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You and your baby want to be healthy. Over the years that I’ve practiced medicine, I’ve learned a few things about the flu shot. Here’s my expert take on getting a flu shot while pregnant.

Flu shots work for both mom and baby in any trimester

You probably know the flu can be dangerous for older people, infants and people with health conditions. But, did you know that pregnant women are also at risk for complications? Even if you feel healthy and strong while pregnant, changes to your body make it easier to get sick. Pregnancy affects your immune system, heart and lungs, and that can make you more susceptible to the flu.

The best part about the flu shot is that it doesn’t just protect you while you’re pregnant. A flu vaccine for mom also works for baby until she’s a few months old. That protects your baby until she’s six months of age and old enough to get her own vaccine.

Flu shots have long been proven safe

Flu shots are considered safe during pregnancy. And the national expert panel that makes U.S. vaccination recommendations advises getting the flu shot in any trimester.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has done much to examine the safety of the flu vaccine during pregnancy. The federal agency has conducted several studies that have all shown the vaccine to be safe for pregnant women and their babies. However, you may have heard about a study published recently in the journal Vaccine that found a possible tie between miscarriage and women who got the flu shot two seasons in a row. It’s important to note that this study was not able to show the specific cause of miscarriage. That means there could very well have been other factors involved.

So, my advice? If you’re pregnant, definitely get a flu shot. We know that fever and illness from the flu can potentially harm developing babies. And we also know that you put yourself and your baby at risk by not getting vaccinated.

Don’t stop at the flu shot to stay healthy while you’re pregnant

The flu vaccine protects you from about half of all flu viruses. So, it’s important to take extra steps to stay healthy. Wash your hands regularly and cover your cough. Keep your immune system strong by getting enough sleep, eating well and practicing good health habits.

If you think you’ve caught the flu, call your doctor right away. There are medicines to help treat the flu and prevent serious complications. If you need advice, our nurse CareLine can help you find the most cost-effective care: 612-339-3663 or 800-551-0859 (Toll free).

Find a time to get your flu shot

Flu shots cost $45 or less and are considered preventive care. That means many insurance companies will pay to cover the cost of your shot. Check with your insurer to see if your flu shot could be free.

About Joy Beissel, MD

Dr. Joy Beissel is an OB-GYN doctor at the Park Nicollet Women’s Center. She enjoys caring for women in all stages of life, from contraception needs and pregnancy care to gynecologic concerns. Dr. Beissel finds it a privilege to walk alongside women during some of their most joyful and challenging moments – and everything in between. Outside of work, she enjoys yoga, reading, running and exploring new neighborhoods and restaurants with her husband.

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