As the days get cooler, we know that winter will soon be upon us. Certainly colder weather brings up happy thoughts of cozy fires and special holidays with friends and family, but it also brings more illness—specifically influenza (flu) front and center. Flu season can start as early as October and can drag all the way through May, and if you are pregnant, or planning to start a family in the coming months, now is the time to get vaccinated.
Why does it matter if you are pregnant and don’t have a flu vaccine? It matters for several reasons. First and foremost, is the fact that pregnant women are considered to be at higher risk for contracting the flu than women who are not pregnant—and this could be deadly for you and your baby. The CDC, The American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical groups that specialize in the care of expectant moms all highly recommend the flu vaccine to help protect the lives of everyone involved.
Some evidence has even shown that mothers who are vaccinated may pass on a bit of their own immunity to their newborns, which could help protect them in those early weeks after delivery.
Traditionally there are two types of flu vaccine—the nasal spray (also called the “mist” or “Flumist”) and the traditional injected type (shot). When you are expecting a baby, only the injected type of flu vaccine may be used. This is because the mist version contains weakened forms of the live virus—which could, potentially trigger a full-blown case of the flu, and the weakened immune system of a pregnant woman just isn’t the place to use it.
The shot is not a live virus—despite what everyone may have told you about how sick the flu vaccine as made them, and how they got the flu from it, there is no evidence to support that the injected flu vaccine can give anyone the active, live flu. The virus is dead in this form—and cannot trigger infection.
You can get a flu shot no matter if you are at the beginning or end of your pregnancy and should make sure to do so as soon as the vaccine is available in your area.
Still have questions? It’s normal to be reluctant about putting anything in your body when you are pregnant, but please come in and talk with Dr. Hessel about those concerns so that you can offer your baby and yourself a safe, happy, healthy delivery that’s free from flu.