It’s completely understandable to have concerns over the safety of vaccines, especially while pregnant. After all, there are a range of sources offering conflicting opinions and advice about the effectiveness and safety of them. However, scientific studies have shown that the flu vaccine is safe at any stage of your pregnancy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention September and October are a good time to be vaccinated. The virus is common all year round, but spreads more easily from September through to spring (peaking between December to February), so getting vaccinated around this time of the year ensures you’re protected during peak flu season.
What is in the flu jab?
Flu vaccines contain tiny amounts of the viruses that the vaccine protects against. In this vaccine, the viruses are inactivated, or dead, meaning they cannot cause the flu. The nasal spray contains live viruses, but they are weakened, or attenuated, so that they, too, cannot cause the flu.
Common misconceptions about getting vaccinated while pregnant
You may have come across a 2017 study from the US that suggested a link between the flu vaccine and miscarriages that naturally gained a lot of social media attention. However, these initial findings were found to have been inconclusive. While it’s natural to have concerns, it’s important to differentiate fact from fiction. Some other misconceptions you might hear may include:
“Having the flu jab will harm your baby”
It’s natural that the main priority for someone carrying a child will of course be the safety of their baby. However, multiple studies have shown that people who receive their flu jab during pregnancy are not been at a higher risk of miscarrying.
“I’ve left it too late to get the vaccine”
Studies have shown that the flu vaccine is safe during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date. In fact, those who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant can pass some protection on to their baby, which lasts for the first few months of their lives (when babies are at their most vulnerable, and too young to be vaccinated themselves).
“Flu isn’t that serious, I don’t have to get the vaccine”
Flu is a highly infectious disease. If you catch the flu while you’re pregnant, you’re at a much higher risk of becoming seriously ill. This can put you at risk of experiencing a premature birth, or worse, a stillbirth. Vaccines are effective, and certainly safer than not being vaccinated and risking leaving yourself vulnerable this coming Autumn and Winter.
Final thoughts from Kami
Seasonal flu is an unpredictable virus. For most healthy people, flu is an unpleasant but usually self-limiting disease with recovery generally within a week. However, it’s more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than those who aren’t pregnant. That’s why it’s so important to get the vaccine during pregnancy, to protect you and your baby.
The flu vaccine stands as one of the safest ways to protect yourself and your newborn from developing a serious disease. If you think you’ve already contracted the flu, talk to your midwife or GP as soon as possible. If you do have it, there’s prescribed medicine you can take that might help, or reduce your risk of complications.