The flu and pregnancy – should you get vaccinated?

A pregnant woman wants to do everything in her power to have a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby. Is it dangerous or beneficial for her to get the flu vaccine while pregnant?

An influenza infection is more serious than a cold for anyone, but especially so for frail individuals and people with a health issue. Pregnant women who contract the flu are more likely to require hospitalization than women who are not pregnant.

Contracting the flu while pregnant also increases the risk of a miscarriage or premature delivery, of having a low-birthweight baby, and it even slightly increases the baby’s mortality risk.

When the mother gets vaccinated, that protection is also extended to a baby who is born during the flu season. The antibodies that the mother produces as a result of the vaccination are transmitted to the baby through the placenta and breast milk. Since newborns are vulnerable to serious complications if they contract the flu, especially since they cannot be vaccinated before the age of 6 months, the best protection we can offer them is for the mother to get vaccinated during her pregnancy.

In Quebec, pregnant women are one of the target groups who can get the flu shot free of charge. Pregnant women who suffer from certain chronic diseases can get vaccinated as early as the first trimester, whereas healthy pregnant women can get the flu shot as of the second trimester.

In order to reduce the risk of infecting a newborn, the father, siblings, and even the babysitter are encouraged to get a free flu shot.

Many pharmacies offer the flu shot. Check with the staff at your local pharmacy. Some fees may apply.

For more information on the vaccination campaign of the MSSS, visit this site: http://sante.gouv.qc.ca/en/programmes-et-mesures-daide/programme-de-vaccination-contre-la-grippe/demarche/.

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