Since flu symptoms can be more severe during pregnancy, it’s important for expectant mothers to get their flu shot.

Child Health, Womens Health, News | 6 months ago

Pregnant or Trying to Conceive? Don't Skip the Flu Shot

Since flu symptoms can be more severe during pregnancy, it’s important for expectant mothers to get their flu shot. 

With flu season lasting from October to May, messages urging every American to roll up their sleeves for their flu shot. One group that especially shouldn’t skip the flu shot is expectant mothers and women who are trying to conceive.

Atrium Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stand by their recommendation that pregnant women – maybe more than any other group – should get a flu shot.

"We continue to recommend a flu vaccination for pregnant women during any trimester," says Ashley Eskew, MD. “Numerous studies and data from safety reporting systems have consistently demonstrated the safety of the inactivated influenza vaccine during pregnancy.”

Multiple studies have shown that having the flu illness during pregnancy can be dangerous to pregnant women and their developing babies. Expectant mothers are more prone to severe illness from the flu, due to changes in their immune systems, and this can put them at a higher risk of hospitalization. The CDC notes that severe illness during pregnancy can also cause significant problems such as premature labor and delivery.

The flu shot does not cause the flu. And, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, although some individuals have raised concerns that thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative used in multidose vials of the influenza vaccine, may be unsafe, there is no scientific evidence that thimerosal-containing vaccines cause health or developmental problems in children born to women who received vaccines with thimerosal during pregnancy. Therefore, although thimerosal-free formulations of the influenza vaccine are available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices does not indicate a preference for thimerosal-containing or thimerosal-free vaccines for any group, including pregnant women.

When given during pregnancy, flu shots have been shown to protect both mother and baby from serious flu-related complications. Since babies cannot be vaccinated until six months of age, a mother's flu vaccination during pregnancy can help safeguard the baby from the virus several months after birth. The vaccine is safe to get with Tdap and safe to get while breastfeeding.


The bottom line: don’t skip the flu shot if you’re expecting. 

For more information on the flu and flu season, visit our hub, here.

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