Pregnant Moms Need a Flu Vaccine Too!

Seattle Mama Doc 2015 NFID Flu News ConferenceSpecial thanks to Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, also known as Seattle Mama Doc, for this guest blog post about the importance of vaccinating pregnant women against influenza (flu), as part of the NFID inaugural 2015 National Influenza Immunization Week (NIVW) Blog Relay.

Earlier this year I flew to Washington, DC as a panelist at the 2015 NFID Annual Influenza/Pneumococcal News Conference where I joined flu experts; Drs. Tom Frieden, Kathleen Neuzil, and NFID medical director, William Schaffner, to present the 2015-16 flu season recommendations and explain the rationale behind the every-year flu vaccine recommendation.

I also got my flu vaccine at the event in front of the cameras and thanks to the new jet-injector flu vaccine (truly a needleless “shot”), it didn’t even hurt! As expected, I was sore in my arm for a day or two thereafter.

While prepping for the press conference, I was a little underwhelmed to learn that only roughly 50% of pregnant women get the flu vaccine in the US.

SPOILER: it’s an essential and safe vaccine to get at any point of your pregnancy.

If you’re expecting, here’s what you need to know about the flu vaccine:

  • Quick Takeaway: Flu Vaccine is Safe And Essential for Pregnant Moms
  • The flu vaccine is a recommended, essential vaccine for pregnant women. Women should get the flu “shot” (needle or not) but should not get the live, nasal vaccine.
  • Flu vaccine is safe to get at any stage of pregnancy: 1st, 2nd, or 3rd trimester.
  • The flu is more likely to cause illness in pregnant women as they are mildly immunocompromised and at greater risk while pregnant.
  • Pregnant women have a higher risk for serious complications from flu (including death).
  • Flu vaccine protects pregnant women, their unborn babies, and protects the baby after birth when they are too young to be immunized.
  • When a pregnant mom gets a flu vaccine, she passes her antibodies to her newborn baby via her placenta. This has been found to help protect infants from more serious influenza infections.

For more information on flu vaccines, visit: seattlemamadoc.seattlechildrens.org/quick-ask-this-flu-season-peer-to-peer-protection/

To join the conversation, follow NFID on Twitter (@nfidvaccines) using the hashtags #FightFlu and #NIVW, like NFID on Facebook, join the NFID Linkedin Group, and subscribe to NFID Updates.