With all the confusing, often times misleading, information that is out there about the safety of routine vaccinations, it’s understandable how some might worry about the effects of pregnant women getting the flu shot. While the fear is understandable, it is also unfounded.
It is absolutely safe to get a flu shot during pregnancy. In fact, the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all pregnant women get a flu shot during flu season, regardless of their trimester.
A woman’s immune system while pregnant is not the same as when not pregnant. Typically, the immune system is dialed down during pregnancy. However, in certain situations, the pregnant immune system may respond more intensely. One of those situations is the response to the flu virus. Pregnant women who get the flu often times have much more severe symptoms, serious complications, and could even die from the infection. In addition, there’s some evidence suggesting that getting the flu in the first several weeks of pregnancy might be associated with an increased risk of a baby being born with birth defects.
Thus, it is imperative that pregnant women get vaccinated for the flu. Doing so can help prevent the flu and maternal complications and prevent potential fetal health problems, as a fever induced by the flu can increase the risk of birth defects. Furthermore, getting vaccinated also serves to protect the baby after birth because the antibodies will pass through to the baby and protect him or her from the flu in the first few months of life.
The above should not be interpreted to mean that every flu vaccine is safe because the fact of the matter is that sometimes people do experience complications from vaccines. However, the potential benefits of a flu vaccine while pregnant far outweigh the rare complications.