Why Should I Get The Flu Vaccine When Pregnant?
The flu vaccine is a vaccination that protects the human body against three strains of the flu virus. The shot protects against two influenza A viruses (H1N1 and H3N2) and one influenza B virus.
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Symptoms include fever or chills, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, body or muscle aches, headaches, extreme tiredness and, in some case, vomiting and diarrhoea but this is most common in children.
If you contract the flu virus there can be many complications, some of which can be life-threatening. Minor complications of flu include a sinus and ear infection but the more serious complications include pneumonia, sepsis, inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues, and in extreme cases, multi-organ failure.
During pregnancy, you are at greater risk of developing complications from the flu virus so it highly recommended getting vaccinated against it as early in the season as possible. Not only will it protect you during pregnancy it also protects your baby in the womb and for up to six months of life.
Contracting flu during pregnancy can lead to premature birth, low birth weight and in extreme cases, stillborn. However, research has proven the vaccine reduces the rate of stillbirth by over 50%.
According to the HSE, the flu vaccine in pregnancy is safe and has been given to millions of people worldwide for more than 60 years. Reactions to the vaccination are very mild and reported serious side effects are extremely rare.
If you are pregnant, it is advised to get vaccinated in September or October each year by your nurse or GP. Flu season usually occurs between September and April. You can also have flu and whooping cough vaccines at the same time. They are usually given in different arms.
For most, the side effects of the vaccination are mild. Some people feel sore, might have some redness or a small bit of swelling where the injection was given. Although a headache, a slight fever or tiredness may occur. This is your body's way of responding to the vaccine and will pass in a day or two.
The influenza vaccine prevents you getting flu and passing it on to your baby, protects yourself and your baby with immunity from the flu strains The World Health Organisation expects this coming winter.