Flu Shots for Pregnant Women & Babies

flu-gov-image.jpgToday, Carole Arsenault of Boston Baby Nurses shares information on the flu shot for pregnant women and babies, and staying healthy during flu season:

My clients often ask me whether the flu shot is safe for pregnant women and babies. And the answer is yes; in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flu shots (not nasal spray) for all women who are pregnant during the flu season (November - February). The CDC also recommends the flu shot for primary infant caregivers and babies over 6 months of age. The nasal spray is recommended and effective for children two years of age and older.

The extra stress on a woman's heart and lungs during pregnancy can affect her immune system and make her more susceptible to getting the flu. And since getting the flu could cause complications such as a serious respiratory infection or pneumonia, it's vital to have that defense. Getting the flu shot should protect you and your baby from the flu for about six months.

In addition to getting the flu shot, here are a few ways you can reduce your family's risk of exposure:

  • Wash your hands often. Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infection. Remember to use warm water, lather well, and rub your hands for at least 20 seconds.

  • Avoid contact with people who are ill with flu-like symptoms such as a cough.

  • Breastfeed your baby; the antibodies will help his/her immune system.

  • Don't let your baby be around too many strangers, especially in crowded places such as the mall where droplets transmit quickly and easily.

    Whether you're pregnant or have an infant, there's no need to panic just because it's flu season. Just be sure to get appropriate flu shots and take actions that will help reduce your family's risk of exposure. And never hesitate to contact your care provider with any concerns or questions.

    Editor's Note: I also recommend asking for the preservative-free flu shot. I got my flu shot at about 17 weeks, at which point I wasn't showing, so I needed to make a point to ask for the preservative-free flu shot since the default at my PCP's office was to administer the regular shot.

    Credits: Source information and image from Flu.gov