Influenza and Pregnancy: What New Moms Need to Know About Flu Shots
Pregnant women are six times more likely to die from the seasonal flu. The flu shot can protect expectant mothers from the harmful effects of the flu. Pregnant women are more likely to be affected by the flu because the body experiences changes to the immune system, heart, and lungs. This makes the body more vulnerable to the flu and other serious sicknesses that stem from the flu, including pneumonia. The flu shot can help maintain a healthy and safe pregnancy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends expectant moms to get the flu shot. In fact, getting the shot can protect the baby from multiple pregnancy complications both inside and outside the womb. Although the shot is recommended by multiple national organizations including the Center for Diseases Prevent, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccination rates for pregnant women are below target in recent years.
Is the Flu Shot Approved by my OBGYN?
The flu shot, not the flu mist, is an approved form of vaccination against influenza (flu). In fact, most OBGYNs can administer the shot to expecting moms. You can also get the flu shot at your local clinic and local pharmacy/supermarket. Because of the severity of the complications that can come from the flu to pregnant women, even if there is a shortage of the flu shot, pregnant women will be pushed to the front of the line.
When Should I Get The Flu Shot?
Since flu season lasts about 8 months, it is important to get vaccinated early to help protect yourself all season long. However, you cannot get vaccinated too early because the shot can wear off towards the end of flu season. Doctors recommend getting the flu shot sometime in October. However, you can get vaccinated any time during the flu season to protect yourself and your unborn baby.
Three Ways The Flu Shot Can Protect Baby
- Getting the flu while pregnant increases the risk of early labor. A 2016 study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found pregnant women vaccinated against the flu reduced the risk of preterm birth during peak flu activity by about 20 percent. The study also found that their risk of preterm birth dropped an additional 4 percent each week after vaccination.
- Mothers who get the shot reduce the risk of the baby being a stillbirth. Research in Western Australia studied 58,008 pregnancies and found that the risk of stillbirth was 51 percent lower in vaccinated women than in unvaccinated ones.
- It can protect newborns until they are old enough to get the flu shot. Research shows that babies whose mother gets the shot are protected from influenza for up to six months, which is around the same time they are old enough to acquire their own flu shot.
- Week, By. “What to Expect.” Whattoexpect. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.
- Calderone, By Julia. “CDC to Pregnant Women: Get Your Flu Vaccine.”Consumer Reports. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.
- Bakalar, Nicholas. “Flu Shot During Pregnancy May Reduce Risk of Stillbirths.”The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Apr. 2016. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.
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