When you are preparing to be a new mother, the list of things-to-do and not-to-do seems to be endless. It can be overwhelming to try to keep track. And when flu season arrives, you may be wondering if the flu shot is on the to-do or not-to-do list. The simple answer is that, yes, you can and should get the flu shot while you are pregnant!
The CDC’s Take On Flu Shots and Pregnancy
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, nearly half of U.S. newborns and mothers were at risk of influenza and whooping cough because they didn’t receive the vaccines recommended during their pregnancy (see press release).
What many expectant mothers don’t realize is that they are actually protecting their unborn babies by receiving the recommended vaccines. When you receive a vaccination while you are pregnant, the antibodies pass through to your baby and provide protection for them after birth and before they can get their own vaccinations. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that pregnant women have more than double the risk of being hospitalized compared to nonpregnant women if they are to get influenza.
It is highly recommended by the CDC and all medical professionals for pregnant women to get the flu vaccine. It can be done at any point of your pregnancy without fear of harming your baby or yourself.
The Flu Shot and Pregnancy
The truth is, you should prioritize getting the flu shot during your pregnancy, especially because you are at a higher risk of things going south if you were to get the flu. Let’s take a look at some common questions we get about the flu shot from expectant mothers.
Is Thimerosal in a Flu Shot Cause for Concern?
Some women express concern with thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that has been used in vaccines for decades. Currently, there isn’t any evidence that flu shots containing thimerosal are harmful. You do have the option of a thimerosal-free flu shot if that would help put your mind at ease. Just talk to your doctor about that option when you go in for your flu shot.
Will I Experience Any Side Effects of the Flu Shot While Pregnant?
Anyone who gets the flu shot, even if they aren’t pregnant, may experience some side effects. None of the side effects you may possibly experience are severe, and they can include:
- Low fever
- Soreness or redness where the vaccine was given
- Muscle aches
Most people won’t experience any of these side effects, and if they do, they experience them right after getting the flu shot. Keep in mind, the flu shot can’t make you sick! That is a myth that just simply isn’t true.
Can a Flu Shot Cause a Miscarriage?
The short answer is- no. The CDC conducted a large and strong study that covered three years of flu seasons to monitor risk for miscarriage amongst pregnant women who received the flu vaccine during their pregnancy, and no increased risk was found.
Can I Get a Flu Shot if I Have an Egg Allergy?
Most people that have an egg allergy can get the flu shot. However, it is recommended that you do so in a medical setting where a doctor can monitor you as a precaution. Talk to your doctor about your allergy before you get the flu shot. If you have a severe (life-threatening) allergy to eggs, you shouldn’t get the flu shot.
When Will a Baby Need Their Own Flu Shot?
If you get a flu shot during pregnancy, the antibodies will pass to your baby, providing them protection early on. When your baby reaches the age of six months, they can get their own flu shot. Antibodies passed through breastmilk can help, but they don’t provide enough protection for your baby as a flu shot would.
There is a lot of data related to the flu shot and pregnancy confirming the safety and benefits. There is no cause for concern on any level, and we strongly encourage you to get a flu shot if you haven’t already. Schedule an appointment with us to get your flu shot taken care of, as well as any other pregnancy-related needs you may have!