influenza (flu) virus typically infects between 3% and 11% of the U.S. population every year. Most often, it causes symptoms like fever, cough, cold symptoms, muscle aches and fatigue. But it can also lead to serious complications like bacterial pneumonia. In addition, it can worsen chronic medical conditions like asthma and diabetes.
Pregnant women and children under the age of 5 are more likely to suffer serious complications from influenza. So, while it's important to get the flu shot each year, it may be even more important while you are pregnant.
Why can influenza make pregnant women sicker?
Women undergo changes in how their heart, lungs and immune system works when they are pregnant. While these changes are normal, they can make them prone to more severe illness with the influenza virus that could require hospitalization.
What can pregnant women do to decrease their risk of serious illness?
The best protection against influenza infection is getting the flu vaccine. Flu vaccine has been shown to decrease hospitalization due to influenza in pregnant women by 40%. In addition, hygiene practices like frequent handwashing and keeping distance from people who are sick can help decrease risk.
Are there other advantages to pregnant women getting the flu shot?
Yes! In addition to decreasing risk of severe illness, the flu shot provides protection against the flu to their newborn babies who are too young to get the shot.
Is the flu vaccine safe for pregnant women?
The CDC, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend flu vaccination for pregnant women. Pregnant women should get the flu shot, not the live nasal spray. This recommendation comes from data from millions of pregnant women receiving flu vaccination safely over many years.)