The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, recommend that people with severe allergies to eggs (prior episodes of anaphylactic allergic reactions) should not receive the flu vaccine. As with any pregnancy-related concerns, be sure to consult with your OB-GYN or primary care physician before having a flu vaccination.
After you have a flu vaccination, you may experience some common and usually minimal side effects, the most common being a sore arm that usually lasts from one to two days, mild fever, headache, and chills, or muscle aches for around two days after you have your shot. But, rest assured, there are no known side effects to your baby. (Flu shots are also safe for women who are breastfeeding.)
"Obstetricians are provided with the vaccine, so even if there are vaccine shortages as in the past, pregnant women are generally always able to get it at their doctor's office," says Dr. Parker Quinlan, MD, who believes that, "it is much safer for the pregnant woman and her baby to get vaccinated than to get a bad case of the flu. I know my patients would feel terrible if they had serious pregnancy complications from getting the flu, knowing that it could have been prevented with something as simple as a vaccine."
Prevention is the Best Medicine
Besides receiving the flu shot, there are easy precautions that you and your family can take to prevent infection from the virus:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Get regular exercise.
- Make sure you're able to get plenty of rest.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Be proactive in asking your caregiver about the flu vaccine, suggest Dr. Silverman. "Despite proven benefits of the influenza vaccination for both pregnant women and newborns, rates of vaccination for pregnant women have tended to be low from year to year," he points out. "Pregnant women and those hoping to become pregnant during flu season should seriously consider asking about vaccination."
Armed with a flu shot and precautionary measures, you and your baby-to-be are sure to have a flu-free season!