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The Flu Vaccine: Is It Safe to Get During Pregnancy?

Many pregnant women fear that getting the seasonal flu vaccine will harm their unborn baby. A new study suggests that getting the seasonal flu vaccine during pregnancy is not only safe but beneficial to the baby.

Pregnant women who are concerned about getting the seasonal flu vaccine can breathe a sigh of relief. A new study presented at the Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America shows that getting the seasonal flu vaccine during pregnancy can have positive benefits for both mom and unborn baby.

Seasonal Flu Vaccine and Pregnancy: What the Study Showed

Researchers looked at the effects of getting the seasonal flu vaccine during pregnancy on birth weight, prematurity, and the risks of a newborn baby being hospitalized for a flu-related illness. A total of 921 pregnant women who received the vaccine were followed to determine the outcome to their unborn babies. The results were overwhelmingly positive for both mom and baby. Moms-to-be who received the seasonal flu vaccine during pregnancy were up to seventy percent less likely to deliver prematurely and were less likely to have a low birth weight baby if they had been immunized.

Not only were moms who received the seasonal flu vaccine during pregnancy less likely to deliver early or have a low birth weight baby, their babies were less likely to be hospitalized for a flu-related illness. This is of particular significance since death rates from flu are highest in babies under six months of age; and newborns can’t be vaccinated since the flu vaccine hasn’t been deemed safe for young babies. Moms-to-be that get the seasonal flu vaccine are not only protecting themselves, but reducing the risk to their baby as well.

This should come as some reassurance to pregnant women who fear harming their unborn baby by getting the seasonal flu vaccine. Only one in six pregnant women choose to get the vaccine against seasonal flu – a disease that strikes hardest during pregnancy and is more likely to cause complications in pregnant women.  The CDC emphasizes the safety of both the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine during pregnancy and state that it can be given any time during pregnancy.  They emphasize that a woman can also get the seasonal flu vaccine while breastfeeding without harm to the baby. Getting the seasonal flu vaccine when breastfeeding gives a newborn baby some protection against the seasonal flu virus.

The Bottom Line

Pregnant women who are unsure as to whether to get the seasonal flu vaccine should talk to their gynecologist, but based on the latest research and recommendations from the CDC, it looks like seasonal flu vaccine is both safe and beneficial for moms-to-be as well as unborn babies.

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