Are you pregnant? Here’s how to protect yourself and your baby against flu

Pregnant woman holding her stomach

This article was posted on Lansing City Pulse. Read the full article here.

(BPT) – Did you know you can start protecting your baby against flu while you are still pregnant? For pregnant people, getting a flu shot is the first and most important action you can take to protect both yourself and your baby from flu and its potentially serious complications.

You may have heard that pregnant people are at higher risk of getting very sick and being hospitalized with flu. This may be because of changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy. Flu also may be harmful to a pregnant person’s developing baby. A common flu symptom, fever, has been associated in some studies with adverse outcomes for a developing baby. Additionally, babies younger than 6 months are at higher risk of getting very sick from flu, but they are too young to be vaccinated themselves.

Flu shot benefits for you and your baby

But there is some great news about flu shots for pregnant people and their babies. Studies show a flu shot during pregnancy protects pregnant people from flu during and after pregnancy. Vaccination during pregnancy also protects the infant during the first few months after birth when they are too young to get vaccinated themselves. One study showed fewer cases of infants with influenza in mothers who received the vaccine compared to those mothers who were not vaccinated, displaying a high degree of vaccine effectiveness. This is because, as a pregnant parent, you pass your antibodies on to your developing baby during your pregnancy.

When to protect you and your baby

A flu shot can be given during any trimester of pregnancy. For most pregnant people, September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated. For pregnant people in their third trimester, however, vaccination during July or August can be considered to provide optimal protection against flu for the baby after birth, when they are too young to get vaccinated. This information is outlined in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance for the prevention of flu through vaccination for the 2023-2024 season, which was adopted by CDC’s director as CDC policy on June 28, 2023.

Get your flu shot today!

There are many different options for you to get a flu shot, including at a health care provider’s office, at work, a pharmacy, some stores or even supermarkets. Speak to your health care provider today to learn more about how a flu shot can protect you and your baby, and to access information about the importance of all maternal vaccinations including Tdap, COVID-19 and HepB vaccines. You can learn more about flu and pregnancy at cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/pregnant.htm.

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I Vaccinate provides information and tools based on real medical science and research to help Michigan parents protect their kids. Support is provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation.

You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

As parents, determining how best to protect our children can be overwhelming and confusing. We’re here to help.

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