Is it safe to get a flu shot during pregnancy?
Answer From Tatnai Burnett, M.D.
Yes, it's safe to get a flu shot during pregnancy. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all women who are pregnant during flu season get a flu shot, regardless of their trimester.
A flu shot during pregnancy can help:
- Prevent the flu and maternal complications. The flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Getting the flu during pregnancy increases your risk of becoming hospitalized. A flu shot decreases your risk of getting the flu during your pregnancy.
- Prevent potential fetal health problems due to the flu. Having a fever caused by the flu early in pregnancy might increase the risk of fetal birth defects.
- Protect your baby after birth. Infants are at increased risk of severe flu symptoms, but childhood flu vaccines can't begin until a baby is 6 months old. If you have a flu shot during pregnancy, the antibodies you develop will pass through the placenta and breast milk, if you're breast-feeding. These antibodies help protect your baby from the flu after birth.
When you get vaccinated, request the flu shot — not the nasal spray vaccine. The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus, so it's safe for both mother and baby during any stage of pregnancy. The nasal spray vaccine isn't recommended for use in pregnant women.
If you have concerns about the flu shot during pregnancy, talk to your doctor.
Sept. 12, 2018
Tatnai Burnett, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Pregnant women and influenza (flu). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/pregnant.htm. Accessed Aug. 20, 2018.
- Shakib JH, et al. Influenza in infants born to women vaccinated during pregnancy. Pediatrics. 2016;137:1.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Obstetric Practice. Committee Opinion No. 732: Influenza vaccination during pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2018;131:e109.