Flu can be a serious illness, especially when you are pregnant.

The flu can cause serious problems when you are pregnant. Even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to get severely ill from flu. Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks after delivery) who get flu are at high risk of developing serious illness and even requiring hospitalization.

Flu shots are the best available protection for you – and your baby.

When you get your flu shot, your body starts to make antibodies that help protect you against flu. Antibodies are also passed on to your developing baby and help protect them for several months after birth. This is important because babies younger than six months old are too young to get a flu shot.

If you breastfeed your infant, antibodies also can be passed through breast milk. It takes about two weeks after getting a flu shot for your body to be protected against the flu. Talk to your doctor, nurse or other clinic representative about getting vaccinated this October.

Flu shots are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

You can safely get a flu shot at any point during pregnancy. Millions of pregnant women have received flu shots to protect themselves and their babies. Even if you deliver your baby before getting your flu shot, you should still get vaccinated.

Flu is spread from person to person, so you, or others who care for your baby, might get sick and risk spreading it to your baby. It is important that everyone who cares for your baby get a flu shot, including other household members, relatives and babysitters.

Common side effects of a flu shot are mild.

After getting your flu shot, you may experience some mild side effects. The most common side effects include soreness, tenderness, redness and/or swelling where the shot was received.

If you have flu symptoms, call your doctor immediately.

If you get flu symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, body aches headache, etc.) – even if you have already had a flu shot – call your doctor, nurse or clinic right away.

Protect yourself and your baby.

Because you are pregnant, CDC and your OB-GYN or midwife recommend you get a flu shot to protect yourself and your baby from flu.

You should get vaccinated as soon as possible. Doing so can help ensure you are protected before flu activity begins to increase. Talk to your OB-GYN or midwife about getting a flu shot.

For more information about receiving a flu shot in a VA medical center, contact your provider on the MyHealtheVet Secure Messaging portal. For information about a flu shot within your community, visit www.va.gov/communitycare/flushot.asp.

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Published on Nov. 3, 2020

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