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Flu Vaccine and Pregnancy

Should a pregnant woman get the flu vaccine?

Yes. We recommend that all pregnant women get the flu vaccine and the Tdap vaccination during each pregnancy. The Tdap is the combined tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine. Both vaccines help protect pregnant mothers from becoming ill. It is important because these diseases can cause loss of the pregnancy. Another benefit of getting the vaccines is that antibodies pass from mom to baby through the placenta and breastfeeding.

Does it matter which vaccine is received in a pregnant woman? Is one vaccine safer than another?

Some women are concerned about the preservative thimerosal. Thimerosal, which contains mercury, is used in a very small amount to keep multi-dose vials fresh. A great deal of research has been done on vaccines and thimerosal. The studies have shown no increase in birth defects or other poor outcomes in pregnancy. If women are concerned, they can request a single-dose vaccine without the preservative. Flu mist has not been approved for pregnancy.

If a pregnant woman gets the flu, what should she do?

People tend to think of the flu as just a really bad cold. But while influenza and colds are both viruses, the flu can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections. It can even trigger premature labor. And the flu kills thousands of people in the U.S. every year. If you think you have the flu, go and see the doctor as soon as possible. There is a medication called Tamiflu that can decrease the length of the flu. However, it needs to be started within the first 48 hours of symptoms to provide the maximum benefit.

Where can you get the flu vaccine?

The Tdap and Flu vaccine can be given at the same time. You can get it at your health care provider's office, your pharmacy, or your local health department.