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Flu Shots & Pregnancy

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Pregnancy related image Photo: Getty Images

Ever question if it’s safe for you to get a flu shot while you are pregnant? It is! It’s even recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for all pregnant women to get influenza (flu) shots during flu season (flu season peaks from November to April). The CDC recommends that we should get our flu shots in October to prevent an outbreak of the flu virus.

Why are pregnant women on the priority list for flu vaccines? According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnancy puts extra stress on your heart and lungs, and also affects your immune system. Because of these factors, pregnant women are not only at risk for catching the flu, but also at an increased risk for developing serious complications (like pneumonia and respiratory problems) from the flu virus. In some cases, the flu virus may even lead to miscarriage, premature labor, or other pregnancy-related complications.

Nowadays, there is the option of receiving flu vaccines through a needle (a typical flu shot) or through a nasal spray. Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief Roger W. Harns, M.D. states that pregnant women should request the flu shot rather than the nasal spray. This is because the flu shot contains the inactivated virus (rather than the live virus vaccine found in the nasal sprays). The inactivated flu shot virus is healthier for mother and baby.

For the 2010-2011 flu season, only one flu shot is needed to stay protected. Flu.Gov explains how this years flu shots contain protection from both H1N1 (swine) flu and the seasonal flu.

The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect mother and baby (for up to 6 months after birth). For extra protection for your newborn, exclusively breastfeeding provides needed antibodies and safety for your baby that will help protect against flu viruses.

For extra information of keeping you and your baby safe, check out:

Claire is a twenty-three year old nursing student at Arizona State University interested in perinatal nursing. She currently teaches yoga and lives in Tempe, AZ with her dog Bella.

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