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.

Immunisation Scotland campaign image

Photo courtesy of NHS Scotland

Pregnancy blog, 17/10/2016, by Tommy's midwife Kate

Myth: the flu jab gives 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.

Myth: I have never had the flu before, I am fit and healthy therefore I do not think that I need 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.

Myth: I had the flu vaccine last year therefore I do not 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.

Myth: I am allergic to eggs therefore I cannot have the flu jab

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.

Myth: I am in my final trimester, it is too late to have the flu jab

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

Myth: You cannot 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 whooping cough vaccine is ideally given between 20-32 weeks of pregnancy but you can still have it up until the end of the pregnancy. 

Myth: I thought pregnant women should not have vaccinations.  Is it safe?

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. You can read more about the flu vaccine here (NHS Choices).

Myth: I have a needle phobia, I can have the nasal spray instead

The nasal spray is not recommended for pregnant women

More on vaccinations in pregnancy

  • A pregnant woman talking to a health professional.

    Is the whooping cough vaccine safe?

    The Department of Health has developed a vaccine for pregnant women to protect their babies against this illness until the babies can be immunised themselves.

  • Couple talking to nurse.

    Vaccinations in pregnancy

    You will be offered a whooping cough and flu vaccination during pregnancy to keep your baby safe during pregnancy and for a short while after they are born

More pregnancy in the news

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