The CDC recommends that all women get a flu vaccine while pregnant, regardless of trimester. The flu, also called seasonal influenza, is different from a cold. Even though it’s a virus (like the common cold), the severity of flu symptoms can cause complications such as sinus infections, ear infections, and pneumonia. More serious complications include: tissue inflammation and organ failure. Even though the flu will clear up on its own for most people, complications can be life threatening if they’re severe enough.
Anyone can get the flu. And anyone can suffer complications from the flu. But some people are at a higher risk of flu-related complications. The most susceptible populations include: those aged 65 and older, children under 5 years old, people with some chronic medical conditions, and women who are pregnant.
Benefits of Getting the Flu Shot During Pregnancy
Because pregnant women are at a high risk of complications from the flu, it’s especially important for them to understand the benefits of getting vaccinated. Some benefits include:
- Healthy Mother– When a woman is protected against the flu virus, the risk of flu-related complications is reduced tremendously.
- Healthy Pregnancy– Since the flu can cause a high fever, the risk rises for neural tube defects in the fetus. That’s why it’s so important to prevent fevers while pregnant whenever possible and treat illnesses seriously.
- Healthy Baby– Babies can’t receive flu shots before they’re six months old. But if a mother gets a flu shot while pregnant, the baby will be protected against the flu virus from birth.
Types of Flu Vaccinations
There are two main types of flu vaccines: a shot and a nasal spray. It’s important for pregnant women to request the shot vaccine because while the shot is safe for pregnant women and their babies, the nasal spray is not recommended for women who are pregnant.
When and Where to Get the Flu Shot
Flu season peaks in February, but can begin as early as October. The best time to get vaccinated is in September, so exposure to the virus is limited prior to immunization. As for where to get the shot, most doctor’s offices will offer the flu shot during flu season. And of course all Wiley’s Pharmacy locations carry the flu shot and are available without a prescription. Appointments are recommended to ensure a pharmacist is available, but the appointment is free and most insurance policies cover at least part of the vaccine’s cost.
When it comes to preventing illness during pregnancy, getting a flu shot is an important way to protect mother and baby. As always, if there are any questions or concerns regarding the flu vaccine, they should be directed to a primary care physician. It’s especially important to reach out to your doctor prior to being vaccinated if you think you might be allergic to any of the ingredients in the flu shot.