Can I get a flu vaccine during pregnancy?

The short answer is that not only can pregnant people get flu vaccines, but it’s a good idea. During pregnancy, the flu is more likely to cause severe illness than it is outside of pregnancy. This is due to changes to the immune system during pregnancy, as well as other physical changes. In addition to being more likely to be dangerous to moms-to-be during pregnancy, the flu can also be a danger to babies in the womb. The influenza vaccine, or flu vaccine, is the best-known way to prevent the flu and the dangers it brings with it.

Check with your health plan for coverage details of the flu vaccine as preventive medicine when given by your doctor or at a participating location. 

When should I get the flu vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both recommend that pregnant women get the flu vaccine during flu season, no matter what trimester of pregnancy they’re in. Women who are trying to conceive and postpartum women should also get the flu vaccine during flu season if they haven’t yet that year. 

And it’s not just moms-to-be who can help protect newborns by getting the flu vaccine during flu season. Because babies under six months old can’t get the flu vaccine, but are at risk for being hospitalized if they get the flu, the CDC recommends that family, friends, close caregivers, and anyone else who will be spending a lot of time with a newborn also get the flu vaccine.

What does the flu vaccine do?

The flu vaccine is one of the most important lines of defense against the flu. This means that it does a few important jobs in the body during pregnancy:

  • Prevents flu and complications: The flu is more likely to cause a dangerous illness during pregnancy than outside of pregnancy. There’s also an increased risk of being hospitalized for the flu. In addition, having a fever caused by the flu early on in pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects.
  • Protects baby during pregnancy and after birth: Not only does the flu vaccine protect developing babies from the complications the flu can have on a pregnancy, but it also continues to protect the baby from the flu after birth. After getting a flu vaccine, a person develops antibodies that protect against the flu. These antibodies are passed on in the placenta and in breast milk. This is especially important because babies under six months old can’t get the flu vaccine themselves, so they depend on this borrowed immune system protection, as well as herd immunity, to protect them.

Where to get a flu vaccine

Flu vaccines are considered preventive medicine, so check with your health plan for details of the coverage of an annual flu vaccine.

To review the specifics of your health plan, find a doctor or pharmacy, download a digital ID card, and much more, log in to your secure account. You can also call Member Services at the number on the back of your health plan ID card (TTY: 711).

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