In addition to providing protection to the mother, says Beckee Lucas, RN-C, BSN, nursing manager of labor and delivery at Banner Ironwood Medical Center, the flu vaccine has been shown to provide protection for babies for up to two months after birth.
“Most moms are surprised by that,” says Lucas.
That’s a big plus, says Lucas, especially when a new baby joins a family that may include toddlers and pre-schoolers who are likely to bring home the flu and other viruses.
Since 2004, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee and American College of Obstetrics has recommended women who are pregnant or will be pregnant during influenza season be immunized with the inactivated influenza vaccine.
During pregnancy, women are more likely to become severely ill and have a higher mortality rate due to an increase demand on the body related to pregnancy.
Lucas notes that studies show pregnant women who are immunized are less likely to have babies who are born premature, have respiratory disease, or need to be hospitalized.
The virus in the influenza vaccine is a “killed virus,” says Lucas, which means you cannot get the flu from the vaccine itself. That’s one common misconception about the shot.
People may report mild tenderness at the injection site, and mild fatigue might be present for 1-2 days post injection. That’s because the body begins building antibodies to the inactive virus, says Lucas. “That can make you tired for a day or two.”
The risks of receiving the vaccine are small, with the greatest risk having an allergic reaction to the vaccine itself. Discuss any concerns about the vaccine and influenza during pregnancy with your doctor.
For more information, Lucas recommends the CDC web site.