Texas Department of State Health Services

Protect Two from the Flu

The flu vaccine protects you and your baby.

It's safe to get anytime during pregnancy, and it keeps protecting your baby up to 6 months after birth. We've collected some of the most common questions women ask, along with answers backed by some of the latest medical research. Use this to start a conversation with your doctor, then get the flu vaccine.

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Protect Two from the Flu. The flu vaccine protects you and your baby.




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Q: I got a flu vaccine last year. Why do I need another one?
A: Flu viruses are constantly changing, so each year the flu vaccine is updated to protect against the three flu viruses that research indicates will be most likely to cause disease that season. Also, immunity from the vaccine can wane from one season to the next. Previous flu vaccines will not protect you from getting the flu in the current or next flu season.
 
Q: If the flu season is over, do I still need the vaccine?
A: Yes. Although the flu season peaks between October and April, the flu is year-round. Because being pregnant puts you at high risk for the flu, you should get vaccinated even in the summer.

Q: How many flu vaccines would I have to take? Is it just one?
A: You only need one flu vaccine every year.
Q: Why do I need to have a flu vaccine?
A: Getting the flu can cause serious problems when you are pregnant.

Pregnant women who get the flu are at higher risk of hospitalization, even death, than non-pregnant women. Severe illness in the pregnant mother can also be dangerous to her fetus because it increases the chance for serious problems such as premature labor and delivery.

Q: How does the flu vaccine protect me and my baby against the flu?
A: When you get your flu vaccine, the vaccine encourages your body to start to make antibodies that help protect you against the flu. Antibodies can be passed on to your unborn baby, and help protect the baby for up to 6 months after he or she is born. This is important since babies cannot get the flu vaccine until they are 6 months old.

It takes about two weeks for your body to make antibodies after getting the flu vaccine. Talk to your health care provider about getting vaccinated as soon as you can.

Q: Is it safe to get the flu vaccine while I am pregnant? Can it hurt my baby?
A: Flu vaccines have been given for more than 50 years, and they have a very good safety track record. The vaccines are made the same way each year, and their safety is closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration.

Millions of flu vaccines have been given to pregnant women over many years. They have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their unborn infants.

 
Q: When is it safe to get the flu vaccine while pregnant? First trimester, second trimester or last trimester?
A: You can receive the flu vaccine at any time, during any trimester, while you are pregnant.

Q: Where can I get the flu vaccine?
A: Talk to your health care provider about getting the flu vaccine. Flu vaccines are easy to find. They are offered in various locations such as your health care provider's office, local pharmacies or health clinics.

Q: Can I get sick from the flu vaccine?
A: You cannot get sick from the flu vaccine. After getting your flu vaccine, you may experience some mild side effects. The most common side effects include soreness, tenderness, redness and/or swelling where the vaccine was given. Sometimes you may experience headache, muscle aches, low grade fever, nausea, or feel tired.

Q: Will I be able to breastfeed my baby after I give birth if I get the flu vaccine? Is it safe to do so?
A: Yes. You can breastfeed your baby after you give birth if you have received the flu vaccine. In fact, antibodies may also be passed in breast milk. These antibodies will help protect your baby from the flu.
Q: What happens to me and my baby if I get the flu while pregnant?
A: You and the baby could become seriously ill. For example, having a fever from the flu, or any other infection early in pregnancy, increases the chance of having a baby with birth defects or other problems. Severe illness in the mother can also increase the chances of premature labor and delivery.

Q: Do I need the flu vaccine if I am healthy?
A: Even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to get seriously ill from the flu.

Q: What if I wait to get the flu vaccine only if someone I know gets sick?
A: It is recommended to get the flu vaccine every season.

If you wait until people around you are sick from the flu, it will probably be too late to protect yourself. It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to provide full protection, so the sooner you get vaccinated, the more likely it is that you will be fully protected once the flu begins to circulate in your community.
 
Q: What if I am afraid of shots? Can I get the flu mist/nasal spray instead?
A: The very minor pain of a flu vaccine in shot form is nothing compared to the suffering that can be caused by the flu.

The flu vaccine comes in two forms: an injectible form (the flu shot) and a nasal spray. The nasal spray (or LAIV) is not recommended for pregnant women.
Q: Are there other ways to prevent the flu besides the vaccine?
A: Getting a flu vaccine when you are pregnant is the best way to protect both you and your baby from the flu. There are some preventive measures, such as hand-washing and keeping away from persons who are infected with the flu. Ask your health care provider about other healthy behaviors such as diet, rest and exercise. Although these do not prevent the flu, they are considered healthy behaviors.
 
Q: What do I do if I get the flu while I'm pregnant?
A: If you are pregnant and you suspect you have the flu, consult your health care provider right away.

Q: Does anyone else need to get the flu vaccine, besides me, in my family?
A: It is recommended that everyone receive the flu vaccine every year, unless otherwise advised by their health care provider.