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Can You Get the Flu Shot While Pregnant?

Is It Safe to Get the Flu Shot While Pregnant?

If you're pregnant, flu season can be scary. That's because pregnant people are more likely than others to develop severe symptoms if they get the flu; it can even be fatal. And having the virus can harm the developing fetus, as well. So, it's strongly advised that pregnant people protect themselves against the flu by getting immunized — aka, by getting the flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that this is the best course of action: flu shots can significantly reduce your risk of catching the flu, and can make your symptoms less severe if you do end up coming down with the virus, according to the CDC. But being pregnant can add an extra layer of caution to everything you do. It's natural to want to be sure that it's safe to get a flu vaccine while you're expecting.

As with any health-related questions you may have when pregnant, it's always a good bet to talk to your doctor and get specific recommendations directly from them. But POPSUGAR also spoke with Sabina Kobylinski-Tognazzini, DO, a family medicine practitioner in CA, to ask her about getting the flu shot during pregnancy. And she reaffirms that pregnant women should get the flu shot — and that it's overwhelmingly safe for them to do so.

Is It Safe To Get A Flu Shot While Pregnant?

Yes, said Kobylinski-Tognazzini. It's actually very important to get vaccinated against the flu if you're expecting because, as Kobylinski-Tognazzini explained, "Pregnant women are likely to become much sicker after catching the flu than nonpregnant women due to changes in body chemistry." And again, catching the flu can be potentially harmful to an unborn baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, getting a fever caused by the flu in early pregnancy can increase the risk of fetal birth defects.

The good news is that getting the flu shot during pregnancy offers protection for your baby, too. "Pregnant mothers who are immunized with the flu vaccine can pass along protective antibodies to their babies after birth," Kobylinski-Tognazzini said.

What Type of Flu Vaccine Should I Get?

There are two types approved in the US: a shot, and a nasal spray. Pregnant people should get the flu shot; it contains an inactivated form of the flu virus, while the nasal spray contains a live virus (that's been modified to not cause disease) and shouldn't be given to pregnant people, notes ACOG.

When should Pregnant People Get the Flu Shot?

"Pregnant women can receive the flu shot in any trimester," Kobylinski-Tognazzini said. So in general, you can go by season: the CDC notes that September or October are typically good months to get the shot, so you'll be protected all flu season long. "Earlier vaccination (e.g., in July or August) can be considered for people who are in the third trimester of pregnancy during those months, because this can help protect the baby after birth during their first months of life (when they are too young to be vaccinated)," the CDC adds.

Should Anyone Not Get a Flu Shot While Pregnant?

Certain people may want to avoid an annual flu shot, such as those with severe, life-threatening egg allergies or anyone who has suffered a bad reaction to the flu vaccine previously. But this is a decision you must make with your doctor; they can advise as to any reason you should not get the flu shot.

This information does not serve as medical advice. You should always consult your doctor regarding your health and before starting any course of medical treatment.

Image Source: Getty / Ariel Skelley
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