You have made the decision to get the flu shot this year. Congratulations! Studies show that those who receive the flu vaccine have a higher chance of staying healthy during the flu season. This is an important choice, especially for mothers-to-be.
The History of Vaccinations: Vaccines have eliminated or reduced a wide range of once-common diseases in the U.S.
An important question arises: Does the flu vaccine have any dangerous side effects for you or for your baby?
There are two kinds of flu vaccines- the injection (which contains the dead virus) and the nasal spray (which contains the live, albeit weakened virus). Both have been shown NOT to give anyone the flu, but people have received a strong inflammatory response to the vaccine itself. This will come with symptoms such as a fever, chills, and body aches – which usually goes away after a few days. Very rarely has Guillian Barre Syndrome been reported. Read more about it here.
Pregnant women should definitely NOT get the nasal spray (FluMist). While avoiding a shot seems pretty tempting when you are pregnant, it isn’t effective and the risk of side effects isn’t worth it if you aren’t getting adequate protection in return.
The flu shot IS recommended for pregnant women, regardless of any trimester. It does not harm the baby- in fact it protects you and your developing child. Be aware that you may feel a bit more of the normal bodily response to the vaccine due to a heightened inflammatory response when you are pregnant. Again, this goes away in just a few days and does not affect the health of the baby, whereas an actual infection of the flu is much more dangerous.
For more information on prevention and control of seasonal influenza with vaccines, visit the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention’s website here.