Many pregnant women question whether getting the flu shot is the right thing to do, and you’ll likely field questions about receiving flu shots while pregnant from your patients.
Below are five of the most common questions about getting the flu shot during pregnancy, along with guidance you can provide to the moms in your classes.
1. Is it Safe to Get the Flu Shot While Pregnant?
The flu shot is safe to receive during pregnancy. Many health care providers and organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Nurse-Midwives, among others, strongly advise getting the flu shot because it can save the mom or the baby’s life.
If a pregnant woman becomes ill with any strain of the flu, she’s more likely to develop serious complications. Of these complications, pneumonia is the biggest concern since it’s potentially life threatening and can increase a woman’s risk of preterm labor.
2. Can the Flu Shot Protect My Newborn?
There is evidence that getting the flu shot during pregnancy protects a baby for several months following birth. There are two reasons for this:
- The baby may receive antibodies from the mom during pregnancy.
- A newborn is less likely to be exposed to the flu if the mother is immune.
What’s more important to know is that babies who get the flu are at risk for serious illness. Since babies can’t be vaccinated until they are at least 6 months old, it makes it even more critical for moms to get the vaccine (and other family members as well).
3. When is the Best Time to Get the Flu Shot?
It’s recommended that pregnant women get the flu shot once it becomes available in the fall, regardless of which trimester they are in. This offers the best protection since it takes the body approximately two weeks to produce antibodies after getting the flu vaccine.
Even if a woman missed getting the shot in the fall, she should still get the vaccine at a later time because flu season can last through the middle of spring.
4. Is it Safe to Get the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine?
Pregnant women should not get the nasal spray flu vaccine (FluMist) because it’s made with a live, weakened virus. The flu shot is made with an inactivated (dead) virus and is the one pregnant women should get.
5. Do I Still Need to be Vaccinated if I Got the Shot Last Year?
Yes. Annual flu shots are necessary because different strains of the flu appear every year. This means the vaccine from the prior year will likely be ineffective in protecting against the strains that appear in the current year.