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Question

Is it safe to get a flu shot if I am pregnant?

Datta Munshi MD, FAAP

Answer

Yes! The influenza (flu) virus typically infects between 3% and 11% of the U.S. population every year. Most often, it causes symptoms like fever, cough, cold symptoms, muscle aches and fatigue. But it can also lead to serious complications like bacterial pneumonia. In addition, it can worsen chronic medical conditions like asthma and diabetes.

Pregnant people and children under the age of 5 are more likely to suffer serious complications from influenza. So, while it's important to get the flu shot each year, it may be even more important while you are pregnant.

Influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID started to spread earlier than expected in fall 2022. In October, a record number of children under age 4 years were hospitalized with the flu—the most in 10 years. The best thing pregnant people can do is to get vaccinated.

Why can influenza make pregnant people sicker?

Pregnant people undergo changes in how their heart, lungs and immune system works when they are pregnant. While these changes are normal, they can make them prone to more severe illness with the influenza virus that could require hospitalization.

What can pregnant people do to decrease their risk of serious illness?

The best protection against influenza infection is getting the flu vaccine. Flu vaccine has been shown to decrease hospitalization due to influenza during pregnancy by 40%. In addition, hygiene practices like frequent handwashing and keeping distance from people who are sick can help decrease risk.

Are there other advantages to getting the flu shot during pregnancy?

Yes! In addition to decreasing risk of severe illness, the flu shot provides immune protection against the flu to their newborn babies who are too young to get the shot.

Is the flu vaccine safe while pregnant?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommend flu vaccination for pregnant people. If you are pregnant, you should get the flu shot, not the live nasal spray. This recommendation comes from data from millions of pregnant people receiving flu vaccination safely over many years.

More information

Datta Munshi MD, FAAP

Dr. Datta Munshi is a community pediatrician in Georgia with a strong interest in pediatric behavioral health. She serves on the AAP Council on Healthy Mental and Emotional Development Executive Committee. She enjoys guest lecturing pediatric residents at Emory University School of Medicine.​​ In her free time, she tries to keep up with her 3 children’s sports schedules and her 2 Portuguese water dogs.​​

Last Updated
11/2/2022
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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