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Pregnant? Get a Flu Shot!

The Flu and Pregnant Women

If you're pregnant, a flu shot is your best protection against serious illness from the flu.

Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women more prone to severe illness from flu, which can lead to hospitalization or even death. A pregnant woman with the flu also has a greater chance of serious problems for her unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery.

A flu shot can protect pregnant women, their unborn babies, and even the baby after birth.

Watch a short, fun video that explains why!

The Flu Shot is the Best Protection against Flu

Getting a flu shot is the first and most important step in protecting against flu. When given during pregnancy, the flu shot has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to 6 months old) from flu. The flu shot is safe to get at any time while you are pregnant, during any trimester. (The nasal spray vaccine should not be given to women who are pregnant.) An additional way to protect the baby is for all of the baby's caregivers and close contacts (including parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents and babysitters) to get vaccinated against the flu. Learn more about the flu vaccine.

The Flu Shot is Safe for Pregnant Women

Flu shots are a safe way to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from serious illness and complications of flu, like pneumonia. The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. It is very important for pregnant women to get the flu shot.

Other Preventive Actions

In addition to getting the flu shot, pregnant women should take additional everyday preventive actions.

Early Treatment is Important for Pregnant Women

 Photo: A pregnant woman holding her belly.

Watch "Protect Yourself, Protect Your Baby." See CDC-TV or YouTube. [VIDEO – 3:23 minutes]

If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, call your doctor right away. If needed, the doctor will prescribe an antiviral medicine that treats the flu.

Having a fever caused by flu infection or other infections early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects in an unborn child.

Pregnant women who get a fever should contact their doctor as soon as possible.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Care

If you have any of these signs, call 911 right away:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • High fever that is not responding to Tylenol® (or store brand equivalent)
  • Decreased or no movement of your baby

More Information

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  • Page last reviewed: November 4, 2013
  • Page last updated: November 4, 2013
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