Should I Get a Flu Vaccine While Pregnant?

USACE employees receive flu protection
Creative Commons License photo credit: USACE Europe District

Remember all the buzz just a few years ago about the flu vaccine? With the country facing record flu epidemics and particularly nasty strains of the bug, there was a growing concern there wouldn’t be enough vaccine to go around.

Fortunately, we seem to have learned our lesson from all of that, and flu vaccines are now plentiful and fairly easy to obtain. In many cases, you can get a flu vaccine directly at your local pharmacy. But should you get one if you’re pregnant?

You should always check with your doctor before taking any kind of medication or getting any kind of vaccine while pregnant. In most cases, though, a flu vaccine is absolutely safe for you and your baby. In fact, recent studies show that your baby may even enjoy some health benefits from the flu shot.

My Baby Benefits? Really?

Believe it or not, it appears to be true. Getting your flu shot (thus avoiding the flu) has been shown to decrease the chances that your baby will be born abnormally small. This is undoubtedly due, at least partly, to the fact that dehydration in the mother (which occurs with the flu) is known to lead to low birth weight.

Additionally, it’s important to understand that most things which help you stay healthy are good for your baby. If you’re getting your proper rest (tough to do when you have the flu), your baby benefits. If you’re eating right and getting proper nutrition (again, hard to do with the flu), your baby benefits.

There is no evidence whatsoever that the flu vaccine is linked to any health problems or birth defects in babies. There is a great deal of evidence, however, that mom having the flu can be detrimental to the baby.

Recommendation: In Most Cases, Get the Shot

While you should always speak with your health care provider before you get the flu shot, chances are they’re going to tell you the same thing we have. The flu vaccine is safe for you and your baby and could keep you from becoming violently ill this flu season.

What do you think? Do you have any misgivings about getting a flu shot while pregnant?

 

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