Are Flu Vaccines Safe During Pregnancy?

Embarking on the extraordinary journey of pregnancy brings with it a myriad of responsibilities, chief among them being the health and well-being of both the expectant woman and the precious life growing within.


Today, we engage in a vital discussion that holds profound implications for the well-being of pregnant women– the importance of receiving a flu shot. In a world where every decision carries weight during this remarkable period, the simplicity and effectiveness of this preventive measure cannot be overstated.


As we navigate the intricacies of pregnancy, we aim to shed light on why this unassuming vaccine plays a pivotal role in fortifying the health of both the expectant mother and their developing baby.


Without further ado, let’s unravel the layers of significance behind the flu shot, understanding how it acts as a shield against potential health risks, ensuring a healthier and more secure path through the miraculous journey of pregnancy.


The Importance of Getting Vaccinated Against Flu

Influenza (flu) is not just a seasonal inconvenience; it is a potentially serious disease with far-reaching consequences, ranging from hospitalization to, tragically, death. 


Each flu season brings its unique challenges, affecting individuals in various ways. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during typical flu seasons, millions of people contract the flu, leading to hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands to tens of thousands of deaths from flu-related causes.


The impact of flu extends beyond mere discomfort, often resulting in missed work, school, or cherished family events. Moreover, flu can escalate into more severe illnesses, introducing complications such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and exacerbation of chronic medical conditions like congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.


In the initial weeks of 2024, the CDC has calculated a minimum of 14 million illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations, and 9,400 fatalities due to the flu this season. The agency notes that, as of the week concluding on January 6, 14% of clinical lab tests were positive for influenza, reflecting a decrease from the previous week’s 18%.


Why Should Pregnant Women Get a Flu Shot?

In the face of this threat, the annual seasonal flu vaccine emerges as a highly effective preventive measure. It serves as a potent ally in reducing the risk of contracting the flu and mitigating the potential severity of its complications. Numerous studies consistently highlight the manifold benefits of vaccination:

  • The flu vaccine significantly diminishes the likelihood of individuals succumbing to influenza during the flu season.
  • Vaccination serves as a robust defense against severe cases that might result in hospitalization, thereby alleviating the burden on healthcare systems.
  • Most crucially, the flu vaccine has demonstrated efficacy in reducing the risk of fatalities associated with the flu, potentially saving lives.


For pregnant women, studies indicate that influenza poses a higher risk of hospitalization in comparison to non-pregnant individuals. Furthermore, the flu can have adverse effects on the developing baby, including potential associations with neural tube defects.


Moreover, receiving the flu vaccine during pregnancy provides antibodies that safeguard the baby from influenza after birth. These antibodies are transmitted during both pregnancy and breastfeeding, providing an additional layer of defense for the infant.


A Flu Vaccine is the Best Protection

Flu vaccination significantly reduces the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant individuals. The vaccine is a critical tool in safeguarding both the pregnant parent and the baby from the flu.


Furthermore, research indicates that getting a flu shot can reduce the risk of hospitalization with flu by an average of 40% for pregnant women. This protection extends to the first months of the baby’s life, when they are too young to be vaccinated.


Is it Safe for Pregnant Women to Get a Flu Shot?

Getting pregnant can be great news for many couples. This makes the health of both the pregnant woman and the child she is carrying a priority, so many people wonder if it is safe for pregnant women to get an influenza vaccine.


Flu shots have a long history of safety, with millions administered over the years. Scientific studies consistently support the safety of flu vaccines for pregnant individuals and their babies.


Moreover, extensive studies, including the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink, have found no increased risk of miscarriage associated with flu vaccination during pregnancy. Leading health organizations recommend flu vaccination during any trimester due to the potential dangers posed by the flu.


Side Effects of Flu Shots for Pregnant Women

Although vaccines are safe, many people wonder about the possible side effects of receiving an influenza vaccine.


The most common side effects experienced by pregnant individuals are mild and temporary, including soreness, headache, fever, muscle aches, nausea, and fatigue. These effects typically last 1-2 days.


Serious reactions are rare but can include severe allergic reactions. Pregnant individuals with severe, life-threatening allergies to vaccine ingredients should consult their healthcare provider.


Now that you know that influenza vaccines are safe for pregnant women and carry no risk of miscarriage, you may wonder who should not get vaccinated?


Who Should Not Get a Flu Shot?

Women with severe, life-threatening allergies to vaccine ingredients (excluding egg protein) or those who had a severe allergic reaction to a previous flu vaccine should avoid vaccination.


In case of women pregnant with egg allergies, they can safely receive any flu shot suitable for their age and health status. However, the nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy.


Vaccine Effectiveness

Influenza vaccine effectiveness can vary from season to season. The protection provided depends on factors such as the match between vaccine viruses and circulating viruses, age, and health status.


Getting a flu shot during pregnancy is a safe and effective way to protect both the pregnant individual and their developing baby from the potential risks associated with influenza. As we continue to prioritize health initiatives in Gwinnett County, we encourage all expecting parents to consult with their healthcare providers and consider getting vaccinated for a healthier pregnancy and a brighter future for their little ones.


Are you ready to get your flu shot? Find health care providers in Gwinnett where to find your influenza vaccine, click here: