Should Pregnant Women Get the Flu Shot?
Posted: Oct 2nd, 2019 at 12:00AM
Vaccines already receive enough backlash, and unjustifiably so. Matters are even worse for expectant mothers. Take the flu shot, for instance. The United States is pushing back against a growing population of anti-vaxxers, and the debate is especially heated when we're talking about the influenza vaccination. Should pregnant women get the flu shot?
Let's see what the research tells us.
Should Pregnant Women Get the Flu Shot?
The concern here is obvious: If the flu shot presents any sort of risk to pregnant women, it presents a risk to the unborn child, as well.
Let's back up for a moment: Is there any considerable risk in the first place?
The answer is no.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it's safe for pregnant women to get the flu shot, and millions of expectant mothers have already received it. A large and growing body of evidence exists that backs up the vaccine's safety and efficacy.
If you're going to be pregnant during flu season, the CDC says that you should get the vaccine, regardless of what trimester you're in.
What About Women With Egg Allergies?
The flu shot is made with egg protein, since it's often made by growing the virus inside of fertilized chicken eggs. It's typically a small amount of egg protein, but regardless, people with egg allergies understandably want to know if the flu shot is still safe for them, or if the potential risk of a negative reaction is too great.
The CDC confirms that most people with an allergy to eggs can still get the flu shot, and that includes pregnant women. There are flu vaccines available that are egg-free, so if you have a serious anaphylactic reaction to eggs, it's recommended to have the influenza vaccine that is produced without any egg ingredient.
In either scenario, you should talk to your doctor before getting the flu shot to confirm if it's safe for you.
There Must Still Be Possible Side Effects for Pregnant Women Who Get the Flu Shot — What Are They?
Yes, there is indeed the possibility that a pregnant woman who gets the flu shot will experience some sort of side effects, but they're no different than the side effects anyone else might experience.
If there are any side effects at all, they're typically very mild. They include:
- Soreness or redness at the injection site
- Muscle aches
This is about as bad as it gets. Regardless of what alarming headlines and breaking news reports will try to get you to believe, the chances of someone having a serious negative reaction to the flu shot are very slim.
In the event that you do experience any of the aforementioned side effects, they'll likely start soon after you receive the shot and last only a day or two.
What About the Risk of Miscarriage?
One myth about the flu shot that just won't quit is that it can result in miscarriage. The CDC reports that numerous studies demonstrate that women who get the flu shot are not at a higher risk for miscarriage.
Furthermore, vaccine data is continuously collected for influenza by the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Why is it So Important for Pregnant Women to Get the Flu Shot?
It's important for everyone to get the flu shot, but it's especially crucial for women who are expecting. Here's why.
The CDC explains that the flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women, compared to women who are of the reproductive age and not pregnant. Because of the changes that their bodies are going through, pregnant women are more prone to severe illness. Plus, pregnant women who get the flu are more likely to land in the hospital, and that's obviously something they want to avoid.
It goes without saying the flu can also harm the unborn baby. For example, having a fever — a common symptom of the flu — can cause fetal birth defects, according to the Mayo Clinic.
When you're pregnant and you get the flu shot, not only are you protecting yourself and your baby during pregnancy, but you're also helping protect them after birth, since you pass antibodies onto your child — for example, through breastmilk. This is especially beneficial because, as the Mayo Clinic notes, flu vaccines are recommended beginning at six months old, once the infant's immune system is developed enough for it to be effective.
This is yet another reason why pregnant women should get vaccinated. For the first six months of a baby's life, they have no other form of protection. Wouldn't you want the people who come near your baby to get vaccinated first? Of course. So, you — as a pregnant woman — should do the same.
On a similar note, while your health and the health of your unborn baby, of course, come first, also bear in mind that we get vaccinated to help protect everyone — not just ourselves. When the majority of a population gets vaccinated (and we do mean the majority), we maintain something called "herd immunity."
When we reach herd immunity, it means that the majority of the population — the people who have been vaccinated — is enough to protect the minority from getting sick. This is important because there are people who simply can't get vaccinated — such as the elderly, infants, and people with certain immune complications.
However, as that number of vaccinated individuals declines, so too does the total number of people protected, and the population is more at risk of outbreaks. This is exactly what we've been experiencing with the measles. We're losing our hert immunity.
Getting vaccinated (or not) might be a personal choice, but it has serious ramifications that can affect countless people should you choose not to do it. Vaccines are safer and more effective than they've ever been.
Don't delay — get your flu shot now. Australia just experienced a rather severe flu season, which means that very likely, the U.S. is next.
Receiving your vaccinations and staying healthy — while helping protect the people around you — is easy with e7 Health. If you're in the Chicago or Las Vegas areas and need to catch up on your shots, contact us today to schedule an appointment at the location nearest you.
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