This article appears in Sept.-Oct. Family magazine.
Getting the flu while pregnant is not doctor-recommended.
“The best way to safeguard your pregnancy and to safeguard the health of your newborn is to get your flu shot in pregnancy,” said Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf, an obstetrician and gynecologist and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
The flu vaccine is safe in pregnancy, Waldorf said.
While strongly recommended by the medical community, only about half of pregnant women in the United States get their flu shot, Waldorf said. Getting the vaccine is recommended for pregnant women regardless of trimester by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The influenza vaccination is critical to maintaining a woman’s safety and well-being during pregnancy, Waldorf said.
Catching the flu could result in hospitalization or worse. Like the very young, very old and people who are immunocompromised, pregnant women are in a high-risk group more likely to become very sick or even die from the flu, Waldorf said.
If a pregnant woman catches the flu it can result in risks to a pregnancy such as preterm birth and stillbirth, she said.
The benefits of a flu vaccination in pregnancy even extend to a woman’s newborn child. For several months after birth, a newborn will have some of the mother’s antibodies and be slightly protected from the flu, Waldorf said.
Because the flu is a nasty virus and communicable, people who have pregnant women in their lives should also become vaccinated, Waldorf said.
Every person 6 months and older should be vaccinated each year ideally sometime in the fall or early winter. For the best coverage it is advised to get the flu shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available by mid- to late September or early October.