Why OB/Gyns Say It’s so Important to Get a Flu Shot When You’re Pregnant

Photo: Getty Images/Artem Varnitsin and EyeEm
With flu season now in full swing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 65 percent of women who are pregnant haven't received the influenza vaccine this year. The nation's health protection agency recommends flu shots during any trimester of pregnancy to safeguard the health of both mother and unborn child. Getting a flu shot when pregnant is in fact the safest choice. “I want to reinforce that all expectant mothers should be up-to-date with recommended vaccinations as part of their routine prenatal care," says CDC director Robert Redfield, MD.

Women who are pregnant arguably need the flu shot more than anyone else, says Kecia Gaither, MD, a double board-certified OB/GYN. "In a pregnant woman, the immune system downgrades, and changes to lung function predispose them to getting the flu," she says. "But when mothers receive the flu shot, they pass some of that immunity to the baby via the placenta, thus helping to provide immunity to the baby for the first few months of life."

The CDC's case for vaccination is compelling. Pregnant women are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized if they contract the flu during pregnancy as compared to women who are not pregnant. "Since 2010, among women ages 15 to 44 years who were hospitalized for influenza, 24 percent to 34 percent of them were pregnant—even though only approximately 9 percent of U.S. women in this age group are pregnant at any given time each year," says the CDC.

Infants can't receive the flu vaccine until they're about 6 months old. Therefore, getting it done (along with other vaccinations!) before the baby arrives is really the best defense.

Here's what you need to know about the universal flu vaccine, and how to consume the utmost vitamin C this cold season

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