Can the Flu Shot Harm My Unborn Baby?

Reviewed on 5/19/2021
flu shot during pregnancy
Getting the flu shot will not harm your unborn baby at any stage of pregnancy

Getting the flu shot will not harm your unborn baby at any stage of pregnancy. The flu shot is both safe and recommended to protect you and your baby from the virus. Don’t however, get the nasal spray vaccine, which is not recommended for pregnant women.

If you’re concerned about getting the flu shot during pregnancy, talk to your doctor.

What are the benefits of getting the flu shot during pregnancy?

If you are pregnant, there are several benefits to getting the flu shot. It may help:

  • Prevent severe illness from the flu. The flu is more likely to severely affect you if you are pregnant, since changes in your immune system and other organs make you more prone to severe illness. Getting the flu vaccine can reduce your chances of getting hospitalized by 40%.
  • Protect your unborn baby from flu-related complications. If you get the flu in early pregnancy, the chances of your baby being born with birth defects increases. 
  • Protect your baby after birth. Newborns and infants are at an increased risk of getting flu, but they can only be vaccinated after 6 months of age. When you receive a flu shot during pregnancy, you pass on the antibodies to your baby through the placenta.

Can the flu shot cause miscarriage?

There is no link between flu shots during pregnancy and miscarriages. A recently published study by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigated the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women who were vaccinated in three flu seasons (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15). The study did not find an increased risk of miscarriage after the flu shot.

An earlier study conducted during the flu seasons of 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 found a correlation between flu shots during pregnancy and increased risk of miscarriage. However, the study was limited and the sample size was small, which could have led to imprecise results.

Both CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that pregnant women get vaccinated for the flu, since the flu poses a danger to pregnant women and the vaccine can protect them from serious illness.

What are the side effects of getting the flu shot during pregnancy?

Like other people, pregnant women may experience the same side effects after getting the flu shot. They are typically mild and may include:

Side effects usually develop soon after the shot is given and may last between 1-2 days.

It’s very rare for the flu shot to cause any serious side effects, such as severe allergic reactions. If you have an allergy to any of the vaccination components, make sure to inform your health care provider before getting the flu shot.

QUESTION

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References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu Vaccine Safety and Pregnancy. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/qa_vacpregnant.htm

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