Flu Vaccines are Important and Safe for Pregnant Women

Influenza or Flu is a viral illness that appears most frequently during the winter and early spring. The effects of the flu can range from a mild cold-like illness to becoming severely sick, requiring hospitalization.

Women who are expecting are at an increased risk of developing severe flu-related illnesses due to the many changes in the immune system, heart and lungs that occur during pregnancy.

Influenza can be harmful to both mother and developing baby.   Complications from the flu can increase chances for premature delivery and is also linked to neural tube defects in growing fetuses.

The CDC highly recommends that pregnant women receive the flu shot. For 2015-2016, it is estimated that the vaccine prevented about 5 million influenza illnesses and 3,000 related deaths.

A flu shot given to a pregnant woman protects mother and baby. Research shows that mothers, who are vaccinated, will pass on some immunity to their child after birth. This reduces the risk of illness for the newborn.  The CDC finds that “The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby for several months after birth from flu.”

The vaccine is safe to get during any trimester.  There is an excellent safety record for the millions of pregnant women who received the flu shot.  We highly recommend vaccination for all pregnant women, and it is considered part of routine prenatal care.

It is important for others living in the household to get the flu shot to further protect the newborn. Babies usually get their first flu shot at the age of 6 months, so until then, they are at an increased risk of getting influenza from their environment. If an unvaccinated infant gets the flu, it can be severe and require medical management.

If you are pregnant and experiencing flu symptoms such as fever, body aches or a sore throat, call your family doctor immediately or seek medical attention.

To schedule an appointment with the Family Medicine Department at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call, 718-206-6942

Radeeb Akhtar MD. MPH. JHMC Family Medicine


All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.