Ask the Expert: Is It Safe for Pregnant Women to Get a Flu Shot?

If you’re pregnant during the flu season, you may be worried about vaccines and medications affecting your baby’s health. The March of Dimes women should get the flu shot while pregnant.

pregnant motherIs it safe for pregnant women to get a flu shot?

The flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy and can protect both mother and baby from the flu and its possible consequences. Health complications resulting from influenza infection, such as pneumonia, can be serious and even deadly. Pregnant women, and women who expect to become pregnant, should get an annual flu shot.

Studies, which looked at thousands of pregnant women who received the seasonal flu vaccine, found that their babies did not have a higher risk of being born too soon or developing a birth defect when compared with babies born to women who did not get a vaccine. Also, researchers found that women who were vaccinated were less likely to suffer a stillbirth. One study was published in July in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the other in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“It’s not too late for pregnant women, and women who expect to become pregnant, to get their flu shot. The influenza virus poses a serious risk of illness and even death,” said Siobhan Dolan, M.D., MPH, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y., medical advisor to the March of Dimes, and author of Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby. “We hope these latest studies will ease any concerns that getting the flu shot may hurt their unborn baby. In fact, babies born to mothers who got their flu shot while pregnant were protected from serious illness with influenza during their first six months of life.”

In addition to getting their annual flu shot, pregnant women can lower the risk of catching influenza by limiting contact with others who are sick, coughing or sneezing into a tissue or an arm, not touching the eyes, nose, and mouth, washing hands with soap and water before touching others, using sanitizers, using hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to wash dishes and utensils, and not sharing dishes, glasses, utensils, or toothbrush. Also, those who live with pregnant women, or are in close contact with them, should be immunized.

Unimmunized pregnant women who develop influenza infection symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and cough should contact their health providers as soon as possible to begin the treatment.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit

Also see:

How Do I Know If It Is the Cold or the Flu?

How Can I Soothe My Colicky Baby?

What Food and Drinks Should I Avoid While Breast-Feeding?