Flu shots for pregnant women especially important this year | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Flu shots for pregnant women especially important this year

Seasonal flu is especially dangerous for pregnant women and their babies in normal times. With COVID-19 spreading at the same time, it’s especially important to get vaccinated this year.

Seasonal flu is especially dangerous for pregnant women and their babies in normal times. With COVID-19 spreading at the same time, it’s especially important to get vaccinated this year.

“If you’re pregnant, getting a flu shot is critical because you’re more likely to have serious complications from the flu because of changes to your immune system, lungs and heart,” said Kendal K. Stephens, M.D., a specialist with Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine. “A high fever from the flu also can put your baby at risk and increase your risk of preterm labor.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu shot usually reduces the risk of getting sick with the flu by 40% to 60%. Because infants can’t get a flu shot for their first six months, they rely on picking up the antibodies from mom.

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“It’s even more critical this year because both the flu and COVID-19 can mean serious illness,” Dr. Stephens said. “We don’t yet know what this winter holds as far as the two infections together, so we want to do everything possible to prevent both.”

Related: Learn more about the flu and pregnancy

If you get the flu while pregnant

  • Call your provider right away to discuss antiviral drugs. These should be started within two days of developing symptoms.
  • Take acetaminophen right away to reduce fever: Keeping fever down helps prevent issues for your baby.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself from getting dehydrated. Your growing baby also needs plenty of fluids. Water is the best option.

RelatedLearn the symptoms of flu versus coronavirus, colds and allergies

For women who are pregnant and get the flu, it can turn into an emergency very quickly. Go to an emergency room immediately if you experience:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Related: Pregnancy and COVID-19


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