Should I Get My Flu Shot While Pregnant?

As a provider of flu shots in the Kansas City area, ARCpoint Labs of Overland Park frequently hears a lot of questions about the flu vaccine. Among them: “How effective is the flu shot?” “When should I get my flu shot?” “What strains of flu are covered under this year’s flu shot?” and sometimes, “Should I get my flu shot while pregnant?” The last question is especially relevant this year, with the H1N1 flu strain running rampant.

Recently, an unvaccinated pregnant Kansas City woman made the news for for falling severely ill with H1N1, to the point where doctors at Overland Park Regional Medical Center had to place her in a medically-induced coma. Two days after she entered the hospital, she actually gave birth to her child — while still in a coma. Both mother and son are doing well, and after missing his delivery and the first two weeks of his life, she swears she will always get a flu shot from now on.

Despite this story, there are still many skeptical of the flu shot and its importance for pregnant women. If you still have doubts about whether you should get a flu shot during pregnancy, here is some information that should help.

Should I Get My Flu Shot While Pregnant?

Pregnancy & Weakened Immunity

“Why get a flu shot when I’m pregnant?” you might think. “I’ve never gotten the flu before.”

The answer is simple: when you’re pregnant, your immune system, lungs, and heart change — and these differences make you more susceptible to serious flu-related illnesses, potentially escalating to hospitalization and even death. Catching the flu or flu-related illnesses can also cause premature labor and delivery, resulting in problems for your baby. In short, the very best way to protect yourself and your unborn child from the flu and these serious complications is by getting the flu shot.

Is the Flu Shot Safe for Pregnant Women?

Overland Park | Should I Get My Flu Shot While Pregnant

Although the nasal spray flu vaccine should not be administered to pregnant women, the flu shot is safe for women in any trimester. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conduct extensive monitoring each year to detect adverse reactions to the flu shot in pregnant women, and neither groups have ever raised concern. Furthermore, multiple scientific studies of thousands of pregnant women have affirmed that the flu shot poses no harm to pregnant women. As with any healthy person receiving a vaccine, pregnant women may experience some mild side effects after receiving their flu shot, such as headaches, muscle aches, nausea, fever, tiredness, or soreness at the injection site. If you have had severe allergic reaction to a flu shot or have a life-threatening allergy to any components of the flu vaccine, including eggs, you should not get a flu shot.

Is the Flu Shot Safe for Unborn Babies?

Scientific research and FDA or CDC-monitoring have shown no evidence of the flu shot causing harm to the unborn child. Specifically, a collaborative FDA and CDC study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that no patterns of complications or negative fetal outcomes resulted after the flu shot was administered to pregnant women from 1990 – 2009. The Vaccine Safety Datalink, which further monitors the safety of the flu shot for pregnant women and their unborn children, further found that flu shots do not increase the risk of miscarriage.

How Does the Flu Shot Protect a Baby After Birth?

Did you know that getting your flu shot during pregnancy can even protect your newborn baby? When a pregnant women gets a flu shot, they pass their immunity on to the unborn child through flu antibodies. This is critical because babies — whose young immune systems are also highly susceptible to the flu and its dangerous complications — cannot get a flu shot until they are 6 months old. Since your flu shot will protect your newborn up to that point, you don’t need to worry about your child contracting a serious flu-related illness. If you do not receive your flu shot during pregnancy, your child won’t receive any antibody protection. It’s also a great idea to have all the baby’s close contacts — the father, any siblings, grandparents, babysitters, or caregivers — get a flu shot, too.

Pregnant Women: Get Your Flu Shot Today

Bottom line: scientific and medical research has shown no adverse effects of the flu shot in pregnant women, their unborn babies, and newborns — and proven that the flu shot is the best way to combat the potentially life-threatening complications from the flu. Fortunately, after 2009 – 2010’s H1N1 pandemic, more and more pregnant women are getting their flu shot.

Are you one of them? If you’re pregnant, you should get your flu shot today. For quick, walk-in flu shots in Kansas City, visit ARCpoint Labs of Overland Park today, or call (913) 815-0988 to learn more about pregnant women and the flu shot.

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