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.