Tommy's PregnancyHub

Flu vaccine fact checker

The NHS are advising pregnant women to get their flu vaccination this winter. Our midwife Kate has put together a flu vaccine fact checker to bust some of the myths that put mums-to-be off getting the jab.
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Photo courtesy of NHS Scotland

Pregnancy blog by Tommy's midwife Kate

The flu jab does not give you flu

The flu jab is not a live vaccine, this means it does not contain any active virus and therefore does not give you the flu.  However it is common to get a mild fever or feel a bit aching for a few days after the vaccine; this is because the vaccine stills triggers your immune system to react and make antibodies in order to attack the flu virus. Find out how the vaccine works.

Even if you have had the flu before, are fit and healthy, it is still good to get it

When you are pregnant your immune system is supressed making you more likely to catch the flu.  If you were to catch flu during pregnancy the effects and complications are often more severe and can potentially put you and your baby at risk.  Getting flu during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and having a low birth weight baby; additionally can put mother at risk of pneumonia and other serious infections. 

Even if you had the flu vaccine last year you still need it again this year

The flu virus changes each year and therefore the vaccine changes each year accordingly.  As a result, even if you have had the flu vaccine last year it is still recommended having the vaccine for the current year in pregnancy.

You can have the jab even if you're allergic to eggs 

The flu vaccine does contain a small amount of egg protein and it is possible for this to trigger a reaction.  If you have a known egg allergy, particularly if it is severe, then it is important to speak to your GP, midwife or practice nurse about the option of an egg-free inactivated flu vaccine or a referral to a specialist at the hospital for a vaccination.

Even if you're in your final trimester, you can still have the flu jab

You can have the flu jab at any point in your pregnancy right up until your due date

You can have the flu vaccine at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine

You can have the flu vaccine at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine. The best time to get vaccinated to protect your baby is from week 16 up to 32 weeks of pregnancy. You can have the vaccine anytime from 16 weeks but if you have it after 38 weeks it may be less effective. 

It is safe for women to have flu vaccines

The programme for flu vaccine for pregnant women has been implemented in most developed countries in the world for many years; there have been no reported cases of any safety issues or concerns regarding the flu vaccine in pregnancy. Please be aware, the nasal spray is not recommended for pregnant women and instead they should receive the jab.  Read more about the flu vaccine on the NHS website