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The Importance and Safety of Flu Shots During Pregnancy

The only two vaccines recommended as safe for all pregnant women are for the flu and whooping cough, yet only about 35% of women get them both, whereas only half get the flu shot. There can be serious consequences for your baby if you neglect to heed the warnings.

The Dangers to Your Infant from Whooping Cough

Pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. The CDC strongly recommends that pregnant women get this vaccine, which is commonly known as Tdap. Pertussis can be life threatening for infants too young to be vaccinated, and in fact, 70% of those who have died from whooping cough were infants younger than 2 months of age.

Whooping cough causes the airwaves to swell causing common symptoms including the following: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Gasping for air 
  • Skin turning blue from lack of oxygen

pregnant woman getting a flu shot

 An infant without protection can be infected by an older sibling, parents, grandparents, or other caregivers. Newborns can also easily be infected by anyone who gets near them because the bacteria is easily transferable from one person to another.

The Dangers to Your Infant from the Flu

The influenza vaccine was developed in 1960, and over the years there have been many misconceptions about its safety. Both the CDC and the American College Of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women get the flu shot to protect themselves and their unborn child.

Having the flu and a fever during pregnancy increases your risk of fetal birth defects or premature birth. Getting the flu shot will of course decrease this risk, as immunized women will be much less likely to catch the flu while pregnant and require hospitalization for treatment. Although children cannot be vaccinated for the flu until they are at least 6 months old, your shot will provide protective antibodies to pass to your newborn through breast milk as well as the placenta.

Infants without protection from the flu vaccine can become dehydrated, get pneumonia, and suffer swelling of the brain should they get the flu. In addition, they are at a greater risk for especially severe outcomes caused by the flu, including death. 

Important Takeaways

It is recommended that pregnant women have both the flu vaccine and the Tdap for whooping cough, as both provide added protection for themselves as well as their child. The best time to receive these two shots is during the beginning of the mother’s third trimester.

Contact Genesee Valley Obstetrics & Gynecology with additional questions about the importance and safety of flu shots during pregnancy.

As always, if you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (585) 641-0399 or fill out our online appointment request form today! 

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COVID-19 Update

Telemedicine visits are now available. Please call our office at (585) 641-0399 to book your appointment, or request an appointment online today!

Genesee Valley Obstetrics & Gynecology, P.C. is closely following the most up-to-date announcements and information on the known cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Because this information is always changing, we will be monitoring all updates from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control. 

If you are or your anyone in your family is experiencing cold or flu symptoms, or have travelled outside the country recently (in the last 14 days), please make sure to contact us via phone prior to your appointment. You may also contact us for any additional questions by calling our office at (585) 641-0399. 

Here are a few additional resources as well: 

World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control

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