Influenza is a potentially life-threatening virus for a mother and her unborn child but having the flu vaccine in pregnancy can mitigate this risk. The Australian government has made flu vaccines free for expecting mothers, in order to protect them against the potential deadly virus. At Super Health Chatswood Medical Centre we believe in taking a proactive stance to disease prevention and offer flu vaccines to pregnant women.
What Are The Flu Vaccine Benefits In Pregnancy?
Having the flu shot protects the expecting mother and her unborn baby from contracting influenza. While vaccines are not 100% effective, having the shot gives you the maximum amount of protection possible against the flu. It also protects your neonate from the flu after birth.
Pregnant Women Are A Higher Risk Group
Did you know that if you are pregnant your chance of hospitalisation from flu is heightened?
This is because of the changes that take place in a pregnant woman’s body and your lowered immunity during this time. The changes that take place in your heart, lungs and immunity can make you more severely sick if you develop the flu, compared to a non-pregnant person.
Getting sick while pregnant places your baby at risk as well. Sick mothers are more likely to go into premature labour than healthy expecting mothers which also puts their baby at risk.
Having the flu vaccine can reduce a pregnant woman’s chance of stillbirth by 51%. Furthermore, your baby’s chance of hospitalisation from flu-related illness is reduced by 25% if you have the flu shot while pregnant.
Getting The Flu Makes Pregnancy Uncomfortable
Even developing a mild case of the flu is less than ideal during pregnancy. Being pregnant can be challenging enough, and dealing with the symptoms of the flu, even if it is a mild case, is less than ideal when you have so much else to contend with. Whether you’re experiencing morning sickness or struggling with the weight of an eight month pregnant belly, the aching muscles, headaches and additional fatigue that influenza brings on are really unnecessary and, thanks to the flu vaccination, can be avoided.
The Flu Vaccine Is Safe For Mother And Baby
The flu vaccine is safe for mother and baby.
Having the shot is beneficial for your baby in utero because he or she won’t be able to have the vaccine before six months – so that boost of immunity during the pregnancy is especially important.
When Should Pregnant Mothers Have The Flu Shot?
The flu vaccine can be administered at any point during your pregnancy but you are advised to ensure you have yours before the peak flu season begins. It is recommended that you have the flu shot by mid April to beginning May to give you the widest range of protection.
Furthermore, the biggest complications from the flu are likely to take place in the second and third trimesters, so please ensure you have adequate protection.
Remember that it will take at least two weeks after your vaccine is administered before your body starts making the antibodies required to give you immunity. In pregnant women this could take up to four weeks to occur – because of the changes that take place to your immune system during pregnancy.
Won’t The Influenza Vaccine Give Me And My Baby Influenza?
The influenza vaccine isn’t a live vaccine, which means you and your baby will not develop the flu from the vaccine. When your body comes into contact with parts of the vaccine, it responds with an autoimmune response that protects you from catching the virus.
I Had A Flu Vaccination Last Year, Do I Need It Again?
Even if you were vaccinated previously, the Australian government recommends everyone have a flu shot at least once a year. This is because new strains of the virus are in circulation every year and what previously would have protected may not have any power this year.
All pregnant women qualify for a free flu vaccination in terms of the National Immunisation Program (NIP) so if cost is a barrier, there is no reason not be immunised.
Furthermore influenza is highly contagious and with a lower functioning immune system, a pregnant woman needs to make the best decision for herself and her baby.
What Happens If You Do Get Influenza?
If you do develop influenza, the vaccine benefits ensure you have a milder form of the virus but you should contact your healthcare practitioner immediately to get early treatment.
There are antiviral medications that are safe for use during pregnancy, but it is best if they are administered within 48 hours of your first symptoms appearing. A high fever during pregnancy is potential dangerous for your baby, and you should seek your doctor’s advice in order to treat it.
To find out more about the safety of the flu vaccine in pregnancy please contact us: (02) 9884 9300