A flu shot can protect you and your baby too

(BPT) – Do you have a baby on the way? While there are likely many things on your mind during pregnancy, don’t forget to plan for flu this season.

It’s important for pregnant people to know that flu can pose serious risks to their health, as well as the health of their baby. The good news is, a flu shot during pregnancy can reduce the risk of severe flu, including being hospitalized with flu, AND can help protect babies from flu for several months after birth, when they are too young to get vaccinated. Getting a flu shot is the best way to help prevent flu and its potentially serious complications this fall and winter.

Flu can be dangerous during pregnancy.

Pregnant people are more likely to get severe illness from flu than people of a similar age who are not pregnant. This is because of changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy, which may make pregnant people (and people up to two weeks postpartum) more prone to severe complications from flu that can result in hospitalization. Also, symptoms of flu in a pregnant person may be harmful for a developing baby; for example, fever may be associated with neural tube defects and other adverse pregnancy outcomes.

A two-for-one shot.

A flu vaccine can be given during any trimester of pregnancy and provides protection for both pregnant people and their baby — a two-for-one shot. Flu can be serious for infants, especially during their first few months of life when they are too young to get vaccinated themselves. Getting vaccinated during pregnancy can help provide the baby with critical protection from flu during the first several months after birth, as the pregnant parent passes antibodies to their developing baby.

Flu shots are safe for both the pregnant parent and the baby and have been given to millions of people for more than 50 years with an excellent safety record. There is a large body of scientific studies that supports the safety of flu vaccine in pregnant people and their babies, and CDC continues to gather data on this topic.

Get a flu shot today.

CDC recommends people get vaccinated before the end of October, if possible, because flu activity can start increasing in parts of the country during this month, and it’s important to get vaccinated before flu starts spreading in your community. However, vaccination after October can still provide protection against flu because flu most commonly peaks in February and significant flu activity can continue into May.

Learn more about flu and pregnancy and speak with your health care provider today about how to protect yourself against flu.