How can I prevent the flu if I am pregnant?

Khushbu Patel, DO
Family Medicine
The CDC, ACIP, AAFP and ACOG recommend yearly flu vaccines for women who are pregnant or expecting to become pregnant during flu season–regardless of the trimester of their pregnancy.

The flu vaccine helps prevent the flu and its complications in the mother. Pregnant women are more likely to have flu-related complications such as pneumonia, hospitalizations, intensive care unit stays, preterm labor and even death compared to woman who are not pregnant.

It also provides a newborn with immunity against the flu. Infants can’t receive flu vaccine until the age of 6 months
Other ways you can prevent the flu during pregnancy are:
  • Practice good hand hygiene. This means washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Sneeze or cough into your elbows (not your hands).
Flu may be a threat to your health during flu season, and it is a particular concern for pregnant women who may be at risk for more serious complications from the flu. To help reduce your chances of infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these steps:
  • Flu vaccines for all pregnant women in any trimester of pregnancy. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists along with seven other leading national maternal and infant health organizations say that getting your flu shot is an essential part of prenatal care. If flu vaccines are not offered by your obstetrics practice, they are widely available from multiple sources, such as drugstores and workplaces. Protecting yourself against the flu by getting the flu vaccine while you're pregnant provides protection for your unborn baby as well.
  • Wash your hands well and often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who could be sick with the flu.
  • Ask your healthcare professional about any other specific steps you should take while pregnant.
In addition, continue all the things you're already doing to ensure a healthy pregnancy -- eating right, exercising moderately, sleeping adequately and managing stress. All will help strengthen your immune system so that it's better prepared to fight off any viruses that do come calling.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.