Pregnant Women Who Get a Flu Shot Reduce Risk of Hospitalization by an Insane Amount

“There is a simple, yet impactful way to reduce the possibility of complications from flu during pregnancy: Get a flu shot.”
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By Stephanie Grassullo, Associate Editor
Updated October 11, 2018
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Image: Chris Tobi / Getty Images

Nobody wants to get the flu. But pregnant women especially want to steer clear from this unwanted winter guest.

With all of the misinformation surrounding the flu shot, it’s not surprising many expecting moms debate getting the vaccine while pregnant. But both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists whole-heartedly assert that it’s completely safe. A new report published by the CDC reinforces this recommendation, showing vaccinations protected pregnant women against flu hospitalization by an average of 40 percent in the course of six flu seasons.

The flu can be dangerous for all, but it presents an increased risk for pregnant women who are experiencing changes to their immune system, heart and lungs.

“Expecting mothers face a number of threats to their health and the health of their baby during pregnancy, and getting the flu is one of them,” explains Allison Naleway, a study co-author. “This study’s findings underscore the fact that there is a simple, yet impactful way to reduce the possibility of complications from flu during pregnancy: Get a flu shot.”

For the study, the CDC partnered with other public health agencies and health care systems in Australia, Canada, Israel and the US through the Pregnancy Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network (PREVENT). The different health care sites examined medical records of more than 2 million women who were pregnant from 2010 through 2016 to identify those who were hospitalized with the flu.

More than 80 percent of pregnancies overlapped with flu season, showing how likely it is for pregnant women to be exposed to the flu at some point during their pregnancy. Additionally, the flu vaccine was just as protective for expecting women with underlying medical problems, including asthma and diabetes.

Another major finding: The flu vaccine was equally protective for women during all three trimesters, which is why the CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend expecting mamas get vaccinated during any trimester of their pregnancy.

If you’re not sure whether or not you should get the flu shot, reach out to your doctor for medical guidance.

In addition to the flu shot, here are some things to keep in mind when you’re pregnant going into the flu season.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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