Are flu shots safe during pregnancy?
Yes! Not only is the flu shot safe during pregnancy, it is recommended.
Pregnancy is a state of lowered immune function, probably because the fetus is somewhat "foreign" in your system, and your body has evolved to not fight it off. Illnesses like influenza, which are not usually serious in healthy younger adults, can be devastating during pregnancy. In Cleveland, where I work, several young pregnant women died of H1N1 in the epidemic of 2009. In addition, if you get the flu shot during pregnancy, your antibodies will pass through the placenta to the baby, giving your newborn some resistance to the flu for the first few months of life, and you will be less likely to bring the flu into your household and make the baby sick. All household contacts of newborns should be immunized against the flu.
The influenza vaccine injection is not made from live virus and cannot make you (or your baby-to-be) sick. It is safe to take in any trimester of pregnancy. Although not shown to cause any problem to mothers or babies, the preservative thimerosal worries some moms. If you don't want to receive thimerosal, ask for single use, preservative-free vaccine.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the flu vaccine for all pregnant women who are pregnant or will have a newborn at home during flu season.