Flu season can feel scary even when you’re not pregnant. But anxiety around getting sick can increase when you’re growing a human, especially considering pregnant people are more likely than others to develop severe symptoms if they get the flu. In some rare instances, it can even be fatal. And having the virus can harm the developing fetus, as well, per the Cleveland Clinic. So, it’s strongly advised that pregnant people protect themselves against the flu by getting immunized — aka by getting the flu shot. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that this is the best course of action: flu shots can significantly reduce your risk of catching the flu and can make your symptoms less severe if you do end up coming down with the virus, according to the CDC. But being pregnant can add an extra layer of caution to everything you do. It’s natural to want to be sure that it’s safe to get a flu vaccine while you’re expecting.
As with any health-related questions you may have when pregnant, it’s always a good bet to talk to your doctor and get specific recommendations directly from them. But POPSUGAR also spoke with Sabina Kobylinski-Tognazzini, DO, a family medicine practitioner in California, to ask her about getting the flu shot during pregnancy. And she reaffirms that pregnant women should get the flu shot — and that it’s overwhelmingly safe for them to do so.
Is It Safe to Get a Flu Shot While Pregnant?
Yes, said Kobylinski-Tognazzini. It’s actually very important to get vaccinated against the flu if you’re expecting because, as Kobylinski-Tognazzini explained, “Pregnant women are likely to become much sicker after catching the flu than nonpregnant women due to changes in body chemistry.” And again, catching the flu can be potentially harmful to an unborn baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, getting a fever caused by the flu in early pregnancy can increase the risk of fetal birth defects.
The good news is that getting the flu shot during pregnancy offers protection for your baby, too. “Pregnant mothers who are immunized with the flu vaccine can pass along protective antibodies to their babies after birth,” Kobylinski-Tognazzini said.
When Should Pregnant People Get the Flu Shot?
“Pregnant women can receive the flu shot in any trimester,” Kobylinski-Tognazzini said. So in general, you can go by season: the CDC notes that September or October are typically good months to get the shot, so you’ll be protected all flu season long. But of course, it’s always best to bring up any questions you have with your healthcare provider, including those about the flu shot and when you should get it.
This information does not serve as medical advice. You should always consult your doctor regarding your health and before starting any course of medical treatment.