Flu vaccine fact checker

Every year, the NHS advises pregnant women and birthing people to get their flu vaccination. We’ve put together a flu vaccine fact checker to bust some myths around this vaccine.

Photo courtesy of NHS Scotland

Pregnancy blog by Tommy's midwife Kate

The flu vaccine is safe in pregnancy

Studies have shown that it is safe to have a flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date.

Please be aware, the nasal spray is not recommended if you are pregnant. You should have the jab instead. Read more about the flu vaccine on the NHS website

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. Some people get a slightly raised temperature, aching muscles and a sore arm at the injection site for a couple of days afterwards. 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 suppressed making you more likely to catch the flu. 

There is good evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. 

One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia.If you have flu while you're pregnant, it could cause your baby to be born prematurely or have a low birthweight.

A flu vaccine will help protect you and your baby.  

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

The flu virus changes each year and so the vaccine is adapted to try give people the best protection against the new strain. So, even if you have had the flu vaccine last year you are still recommended to get vaccinated this year.

You can have the jab even if you're allergic to eggs - but speak to your GP, pharmacist or midwife first

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 have the whooping cough vaccine is from week 16 up to 32 weeks of pregnancy. You can have this vaccine anytime from 16 weeks but if you have it after 38 weeks it may be less effective. 

More information

The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating. If you've missed this time, you can be vaccinated later in winter.

You can have the NHS flu vaccine at your GP surgery, a pharmacy offering the service and some maternity services

If you think you have the flu

Talk to your GP or midwife as soon as possible if you think you have the flu. They can give you more advice on how to look after yourself.