Flu shots safe and effective for pregnant women

BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre and the BC Centre for Disease Control are reminding pregnant women of the importance of getting a flu shot.

Pregnant women who get the flu are more at risk of serious complications, such as pneumonia and preterm labour and preterm delivery.

The flu shot not only protects pregnant women, it also provides some protection to the baby, both during pregnancy and after the baby is born. Once the baby is born, breastfeeding provides additional protection to keep the baby healthy from respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.

Some women worry that getting the flu shot during pregnancy could pose a risk to the baby. Research has shown that the flu vaccine is safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy. There is no evidence of harm to pregnant women or their babies from getting the flu shot.

In BC, the flu shot is free for pregnant women. The risk of influenza-related hospitalizations in pregnant women increases as their pregnancy progresses, and is highest in the third trimester. Flu shots are provided free to all British Columbians who are at risk of developing complications, or those who have close contact with at-risk individuals.

The influenza vaccine that is given by nasal spray is not yet approved for use in pregnancy so pregnant women should receive the flu shot.