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Flu Shot is Safe During Pregnancy

Last Updated on Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Many women are concerned about having any drugs or vaccinations introduced into their bodies during pregnancy. With influenza widespread in the US this season, we want you to know that science-based evidence indicates influenza vaccine is safe during pregnancy.

Maternal deaths have been reported worldwide this season due to influenza. It is not too late to get a flu shot that will protect you and your unborn baby.

The Preeclampsia Foundation first reported on this in September of 2012 when a 5-year study of 10,000 pregnant women was published in the September 2012 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. That study’s conclusion was that babies born to mothers, who were vaccinated in any trimester, did not have an increase in major malformations. In addition, stillbirth or neonatal death, as well as premature delivery were significantly decreased in the vaccinated group.

Just two days ago, on January 19, 2014, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US recommended the flu shot be a priority for pregnant women because studies and history have shown they are at a higher risk for flu-related hospitalizations and death compared with non-pregnant women. The CDC also reported that vaccination reduced the risk of pregnant women getting the flu by half from 2010 to 2012.

“Influenza activity is widespread in most of the United States at this time and is likely to continue for the next several weeks at least, but it's not too late for pregnant women to get vaccinated and still benefit from the protection the flu vaccine can provide,” the CDC said. “Vaccination not only protects the pregnant mother from flu and its complications, but also has been shown to provide some immunity to the newborn child during the first six months of their lives.”

Babies from preeclampsia-complicated pregnancies are often especially vulnerable due to prematurity or growth restriction.

"It is much better to get vaccinated during pregnancy and have your newborn somewhat protected, before starting the usual schedule of infant immunizations," explained Dr. Tom Easterling, Director of the Foundation's Medical Advisory Board and a Maternal-Fetal Medicine physician at the University of Washington.

What does all that mean for you? It's flu season and unless you live in a plastic bubble, you should get yourself inoculated against the seasonal flu, even if you're pregnant. It has no bearing on whether or not you will develop preeclampsia.

Most local pharmacies offer the vaccines for very a low fee; your doctor's office or local clinic often provide easy-to-schedule nurse appointments; and public health departments provide them at no cost for qualified individuals. More information, including where you can get the flu shot and who's most vulnerable, can be found here.

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