Pregnancy and the flu vaccine – Protection for you and your baby

Why you should get the flu shot if you're pregnant

Photo by Alex Pasarelu

“Babies can’t be given the flu vaccine until they are six months old, so the vaccine that you receive is for both of you,” explained Erin Sperry Schlueter, M.D. F.A.C.O.G., department chair of TMC OB/GYN.

With pregnant women on the short list of people with an increased risk of developing flu complications, understanding the facts about the flu vaccine is a top priority. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women can get the flu vaccination at any time in their pregnancy, but it is best to get one early in the flu season, October through May.

The vaccine can be given in two ways, a shot or a nasal mist. The mist is not recommended for pregnant women, although it’s safe for women who have just given birth and are breastfeeding.

Protecting yourself from the flu is only half of the benefit; the other half is the protection it gives your baby. The vaccine decreases your risk of getting the flu while you’re pregnant and then keeps your baby protected for the first six months of life. If you do happen to catch the flu after getting the flu shot, it is usually a much more mild sickness.

“The flu shot is critically important for pregnant women because they are at a much higher risk of life-threatening complications from the flu. We also recommend that all immediate caregivers such as partners and grandparents get themselves protected with a flu shot to provide a ‘cocoon’ of immunity around the new baby”, said Dr. Sperry Schlueter.

Don’t get caught by the flu, get your vaccination early. Mild side effects like a sore arm and a low fever for a few days are a minor annoyance when compared to the flu virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on their website about the vaccination and pregnancy. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/qa_vacpregnant.htm.

If you haven’t already had your flu vaccine, get vaccinated. Even if it is late in the flu season the vaccine can still be beneficial. You can schedule an appointment to get the flu vaccine at the TMCOne Wyatt office by calling (520) 394-6619. A brief registration keeps you on schedule, the central location makes it easy and the friendly professionals provide the quality care your family expects from TMCOne. The flu shot is covered by insurance and only $25 for out of network plans.

 

Is your family ready for flu season?

Are you ready for flu seasonFrom cooler temperatures to pumpkin pie, we welcome many things that come with the fall season, but the flu is not one of them. Dr. Katherine Leitner, a TMCOne provider at TMC Rincon Health Campus, provides some important pointers to best prepare families for flu season.

How should a family prepare for flu season?

The most effective preventative measure is a flu vaccination. Everyone in the family should get a flu shot.

If experiencing flu-like symptoms:

  • cover your mouth when coughing
  • avoid touching your face
  • wash your hands with soap and water frequently
  • disinfect surfaces you come in contact with
  • and stay at home for at least 24 hours

When should you get a flu shot?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends receiving a flu vaccine in October. Even if you did not receive the flu shot in October, it is still beneficial to obtain one throughout the flu season which can run through January or later. It is also important that everyone get the flu shot yearly, because the flu strain changes from year to year.

What about vitamin C and a healthy diet?

Studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin C during a cold does not actually improve the outcome or decrease the duration of illness. However, it is always important to stick to a healthy diet so you can build a good immune system for when you do get sick. During an illness, drinking lots of fluids and staying hydrated is very important.

What should you do if a child is showing flu symptoms?

Make an appointment with your child’s health care provider right away. The provider can test for the flu and treat it with a medication if caught early. To prevent the spread of illness, keep your child out of school until he or she is feeling better.

Who should get the flu shot?

Dr. Robert Jacobson, a pediatrician with Mayo Clinic, says, “The latest recommendations from the CDC reaffirm that all of us are at risk for catching and spreading the flu, and all of us should get our flu shot this fall. Very few of us cannot get the vaccine. Our getting the vaccines protects them, too.”

Influenza vaccine recommendations for the 2017-18 season include these updates and changes:

  • Afluria Quadrivalent and Flublok Quadrivalent are now available for patients 18 and older.

  • FluLaval Quadrivalent may be given to children as young as 6 months. Previously, administration was limited to children 3 and older.

  • Pregnant women may receive any age-appropriate flu vaccine that is approved and recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

  • FluMist Quadrivalent should be not should not be used during the 2017–2018 season due to concerns about its effectiveness against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses in the U.S. during the 2013–2014 and 2015–2016 influenza seasons.

The CDC continues to recommend vaccination for all people aged 6 months and older without contraindications, preferably by the end of October. For those aged 65 and older, the CDC says standard-dose or high-dose vaccine is acceptable.
As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Tucson Medical Center works directly with Mayo Clinic, the nation’s No.1 hospital according to U.S. News & World Report. Our doctors get access to Mayo Clinic knowledge and resources, and you get the best care, close to home.

For information on how to protect infants under 6 months from the flu see this TMC for Children post.

Dr. Leitner is a TMCOne provider at the TMC Rincon Health Campus, near Drexel and Houghton.

 


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461