Flu Shot Time!

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November 18, 2010 by host

You may wonder if you should have a flu shot while you are pregnant, even if it is good for you and your baby. The truth is getting a flu shot is a great thing to do for your baby.

According to research published by the US Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, studies done on the Navajo and White Mountain Apache Indian reservations -- where children are more prone to respiratory infections than other babies – show that babies whose mothers had been vaccinated were 41% less likely to contract a flu infection (and 39% less likely to wind up in a hospital with severe flu-like symptoms) than mothers who were not vaccinated.

This is because babies of mothers who are vaccinated have higher levels of flu antibodies for up to their first six months than those whose mothers were not vaccinated. The vaccinated mothers passed their immune status onto their babies for a short period. In severe flu seasons, babies who are too young to be vaccinated are the most vulnerable, the most likely to become severely ill.

Your health care provider will most likely recommend you have a flu shot, and they will be backed up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Academy of Pediatrics and many others.

Developing the flu during pregnancy can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia or preterm labor. This would put you and your baby at risk.


Since pregnant women are considered part of a high risk group, you should get your flu shot during this month or next -- or before the greater part of the flu season hits.
It used to be believed that you could not receive the flu shot until after the first trimester of pregnancy, but now, according to ACOG, the flu shot can be given at any gestation:
Vaccination early in the flu season is optimal, but can be given at any time during this period, regardless of the stage of pregnancy. The College advises that all women who are or become pregnant during the annual flu season (October through May) get the inactivated flu vaccine. Women can also receive the flu vaccine postpartum and while they are breastfeeding if they missed it during pregnancy.


If you hate needles, unfortunately, yes, it has to be a shot. The flu shot is made of inactivated flu virus. The nasal spray is made from a live virus, which makes it less appropriate during pregnancy or when trying to conceive. The nasal mist should not be given to pregnant women.


The great majority of people never have any side effects from a flu shot. It is a myth that you can get the flu from a flu shot. Since the flu shot is made from an inactivated virus, there is no way to contract the flu from the shot itself.

Usually any side effects to occur are mild and resolve quickly. These may be:
  • Soreness, redness or slight swelling at the sight of the injection
  • Low grade fever
  • Muscle aches
The symptoms may begin soon after the shot and last for one or two days. Most people don't even have these symptoms.

Life threatening and serious side effects are very rare. Signs of serious allergic reaction can include hives, breathing problems, and/or rapid heartbeat. These are most likely to occur in persons with severe allergies to eggs, because the viruses used in the flu vaccine are grown in hens' eggs.


Thimerosal is a very effective preservative that has been used since the 1930s to prevent the contamination in some multi-dose vials of vaccines. (Single dose vials do not need preservatives.) Thimerosal contains approximately 49% ethylmercury.

There is no convincing evidence of harm caused by low doses of thimerosal in vaccines. Still, you may wonder if it is worth the risk for your baby.

A study examining over 2.000 pregnant women demonstrated no adverse fetal effects associated with influenza vaccine. Also, influenza related deaths among pregnant women have been documented during flu pandemics. According to the CDC, "Because pregnant women are at increased risk of influenza related complications and because a substantial safety margin has been incorporated into the health guidance values for organic mercury exposure, the benefits of influenza vaccine with reduced or standard thimerosal content outweighs the theoretical risk, if any, of thimerosal."

So, roll up your sleeve, get your flu shot and help protect yourself and your baby from the possibility of severe illness this winter!
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