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Pregnancy and the Flu

If you are pregnant

Pregnancy alters how the body handles infections such as flu. Flu infection increases the chances of pregnant women and their babies needing intensive care.

All pregnant women should have the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their babies. The flu vaccine can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy, from conception onwards.

Pregnant women benefit from the flu vaccine because it can:

  • reduce their risk of serious complications, such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy
  • reduce the risk of miscarriage or having a baby born too soon or with a low birth weight
  • help protect their baby, who will continue to have some immunity to flu during the first few months of their life
  • reduce the chance of the mother passing infection to her new baby

Is the flu vaccine safe in pregnancy?

Yes. Studies have shown that it’s safe to have the flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date.

Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives. It’s safe for women who are breastfeeding to have the vaccine.

People who shouldn’t have the vaccination

Almost everybody can have the vaccine, but you should not be vaccinated if you have ever had a serious allergy to the vaccine, or any of its ingredients. If you are allergic to eggs or have a condition that weakens your immune system, you may not be able to have certain types of flu vaccine – check with your GP. If you have a fever, the vaccination may be delayed until you are better.

If you are pregnant and think you have flu

If you have flu symptoms, you should talk to your doctor urgently, because if you do have flu there is a prescribed medicine that might help (or reduce the risk of complications), but it needs to be taken as soon as possible after the symptoms appear.

You can get the free flu vaccine from your GP, or it may also be available from your pharmacist or midwife.

More information on the NHS website at: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/flu-jab/