Can You Get Your Flu Shot While Pregnant?

Pregnancy is such an important and special time in life. It's a period when you strive to do everything right for your baby by taking extra good care of yourself. Since your baby is developing for nine long months, putting anything into your body is not without concern and there is a long list of things you should and shouldn't do when pregnant.

Of course, you're advised to cut out drinking alcohol, smoking, vaping, and recreational drugs (via Verywell Health), but sometimes the risk vs. benefit ratio isn't so clear. Oftentimes, knowing what might harm the baby can be confusing.

For example, you must weigh the risk of taking cold medicine against the possibility of getting more sick. In those circumstances, you can turn to alternative methods for a head cold, like drinking warm liquids such as soup and tea, taking a steamy shower, or gargling with salt water to ease your sore throat (via Everyday Health).

However, unlike using cold medicines, there isn't always a natural alternative in many cases, like getting the flu shot. You either get one to protect yourself or you don't.

Here's what the experts recommend regarding flu shots

Although COVID-19 has been at the forefront of our minds for the past couple of years, the influenza virus, better known as the seasonal flu, continues to infect people each year. It also causes deaths annually, and now with COVID lingering in the population, it's even more important to get your flu shot.

Pregnancy is a time of lowered immunity so you are more susceptible to germs, bacteria, and viruses, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, not only are pregnant women more likely to acquire the flu, but they are also at an increased risk of suffering complications and having a more severe case than if they weren't pregnant.

For this reason, the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advise all pregnant women to get a seasonal flu shot, no matter what trimester they are in. The CDC reports that "Getting a flu shot can reduce a pregnant woman's risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40 percent."

Why you should get a flu shot when you're pregnant

The proof is in the data. When it comes to pregnancy, influenza vaccinations cut the chance of pregnant women getting a serious respiratory complication in half. In addition, the flu can bring on high fever. Fever has been known to escalate the likelihood of an unborn baby developing fetal defects (via Mayo Clinic).

There are two types of flu vaccine. One is a shot made of inactivated virus and the other is a nasal spray that contains live virus. Due to weakened immunity, pregnant women are advised to opt for the shot and avoid the nasal spray.

The best part about getting the flu shot while pregnant is that you will develop antibodies to the flu that will be passed through the placenta to your baby (via NPR). So when your baby is born, they will have immunity for six months, which is the age when they can receive their first flu vaccination.