There is a lot of conflicting information out there about flu shots; particularly about getting flu shot during pregnancy – while many prominent voices tend to urge against vaccinations as being unnecessary or even harmful, there are medical experts and government recommendations that advise pregnant women to get the flu shot in their own and their baby’s interests.
Pregnant women tend to worry about most things and the idea of getting a flu shot in pregnancy can be equally worrisome.
This is particularly the case with the sort of news stories that tend to circulate about vaccines; with people in the media alleging that risk of autism and the Guillain–Barré syndrome rises among those who get flu shots, swine flu shots and so on.
Barring some misguided celebrities and so on however, most medical experts seem to agree that getting a flu shot when pregnant is to be recommended. Most people tolerate flu shots very well and even though there may be some side effects they are usually mild, and the benefits outweigh these minor discomforts such as –
- There could be low grade fever sometime during the 24 hours following the shot. For this reason some doctors tend not to give the flu shot to women in the first trimester of pregnancy, though it is deemed safe to take at any time during pregnancy.
- The area where the flu shot was injected could be slightly painful and red for sometime.
- Other symptoms such as a headache or slight chills may also be noted, however these are temporary.
- The flu shot during pregnancy cannot be of the nasal spray vaccine variety, because this kind of vaccine is made from a live virus and is not suitable for pregnant women or women looking to get pregnant.
- The flu shot may not be suitable for those who are allergic to eggs, and this should be revealed to the health care professional administering the shot.
The above side effects and rumors aside, there are a number of reasons why women are advised to have the flu shot during pregnancy. While flu itself is not considered life threatening, it can lead to life threatening complications and pregnant women are particularly at risk because pregnancy is a time of lowered immune responses.
Getting the flu during pregnancy is also seen to increase risk of having a miscarriage and certain other kinds of complications. Research has shown that women who have had a flu shot in pregnancy are less likely to need hospitalization as a result of getting the flu.
There is also the fact that taking the flu shot in pregnancy helps protect the baby soon after birth as well. New born babies and infants of up to 6 months of age are most at risk of having the kind of flu that requires a hospital stay.
However a new study claims that babies born to women who took their flu shot during pregnancy were protected against the flu even 6 months after birth – the babies born to mothers who took their flu shots were 45% less likely to have the flu after birth.