It's time to schedule your flu shot

October 12, 2018

A new study published today showed that pregnant women who got the flu shot had an average of 40 percent less risk of being hospitalized from flu. The study, co-authored by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), analyzed data from more than 2 million pregnant women over the course of 6 flu seasons. This is the first study to show how women who get a flu shot are at lower risk of flu-associated hospitalization.

The flu is more than just a runny nose and sore throat. It's a serious illness that can make you very sick. The flu can be especially harmful if you get it during pregnancy or right after you've had your baby.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop full protection against the flu (also called immunity). Getting the flu vaccine is especially important for babies 6 months and older, young children, pregnant women and other high-risk groups.

Do you need to get a flu vaccine every year?

Yes! Flu viruses change every year, so just because you got a flu vaccine last year doesn’t mean that you are protected this year. The flu vaccine is made to protect against the flu viruses that are likely to be the most common during the flu season. Also, protection from the flu only lasts about a year. For these reasons, everyone 6 months and older need a flu vaccine every year.

Are flu vaccines safe for pregnant women?

It’s safe for most pregnant women to get the flu shot. Tell your health care provider if you have any severe allergies or if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction to a flu shot. Severe allergic reactions to flu shots are rare. If you’re worried about being allergic to the flu shot, talk to your provider to make sure it’s safe for you.

Some flu vaccines are made with eggs. Most women with egg allergies can get the flu shot. But if you have severe egg allergies, get the shot in a medical setting (like a doctor’s office, hospital or clinic) from a provider who knows how to treat severe allergies and allergic reactions.

Pregnant women should not get the flu nasal spray. This is a spray that’s put in your nose.

How can the flu harm your pregnancy?

The flu can be dangerous during pregnancy because:

  • If you get the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications. Health complications from the flu, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, can be very serious and even deadly.
  • Pregnant women who get the flu are more likely than women who don’t get it to have preterm labor and premature birth (before 37 weeks).
  • Fever from the flu may be linked to birth defects, like neural tube defects, and other problems in your baby.

Will getting a flu vaccine during pregnancy protect your baby?

Getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy helps to protect your baby from the flu after he's born. If you get the flu vaccine during pregnancy, you pass on your immunity to your baby. Some studies have shown that this can help protect a baby from flu for several months after birth. Your baby should get his own flu vaccine at 6 months.

Are some children more likely to have serious health problems caused by flu than others?

Yes. Babies and children up to 5 years old are more likely than older children to have complications from the flu. Any child older than 6 months with chronic health conditions, like asthma, heart disease or blood disorders, also are is at high risk of complications from flu. Any child older than 6 months should get the flu vaccine every year.

Where can you get a flu vaccine?

You can get the vaccine from your provider. Many pharmacies and workplaces also offer it each fall. You can use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find where the flu vaccine is available in your area.

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