As the weather gets colder, we face a new flu season. In the United States, flu season is typically fullest in December, January, and February. Each year, 5% to 20% of the US population get the flu, and 200,000 of Americans are hospitalized due to complications from the illness. Getting a flu vaccine annually is the best way to protect yourself against the flu. The Women’s Specialists of Plano recommend all pregnant women get a flu shot regardless of their trimester.
How do Flu Vaccines Work?
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after the vaccination. These antibodies help protect against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. Influenza viruses are always changing, which means the flu vaccine is updated each year based on research that indicates the most common strands of influenza for the upcoming season.
Is it Safe to Get a Flu Shot During Pregnancy?
Yes, it is safe to get a flu shot during pregnancy no matter the trimester. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all pregnant women get a flu shot. A flu vaccine during pregnancy can help prevent the flu and potential maternal complications. The flu is more likely to cause a severe illness in pregnant women compared to women who are not pregnant. Getting a flu shot can help prevent potentially fetal health problems.
Does a Flu Shot Affect the Baby?
Flu shots can help protect the baby after birth. Infants are at an increased risk of being infected with the influenza, but childhood flu vaccines cannot begin until the baby is 6 months old. Getting a flu shot during pregnancy can pass the developed antibodies through the placenta and breast milk. These antibodies can help protect the baby from the flu after birth.
When Should I Get a Flu Shot During Pregnancy?
Peak flu season goes from December to February. Antibodies peak four to six weeks after receiving the vaccine, and slowly go down over the next six months. To be fully protected before flu season, it is recommended to get a flu shot late September or early-October.
What Side Effects Can Pregnant Women Experience from Flu Shots?
The most common side effects experienced by pregnant women are the same as those experienced by other individuals. Side effects are generally mild and can include:
- Soreness and/or swelling from the shot
- Feeling faint
- Muscle aches
If side effects occur, they usually begin after the shot is administered and only last for 1-2 days. If symptoms persist contact your healthcare provider.
Can I get a Flu Shot if I am Breastfeeding?
Yes, women breastfeeding can, and should, get the flu vaccine to protect themselves from the flu. Getting vaccinated reduces the risk of getting the flu and potentially passing it onto the baby. Getting a flu shot is especially important for women who are breastfeeding a child younger than six months. Children younger than six months are too young to receive the vaccine themselves. Women can pass the antibodies onto the baby through breastmilk.
If you live in the Plano, Frisco and Dallas, Texas area and need a flu shot, please contact Women’s Specialists of Plano at (972) 379-2416 or visit our online appointment center.