Should you get a flu shot if you’re pregnant?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

You might have seen stories about a study that was done in 2015 that looked at flu shots and incidents of miscarriages. 

Kim Reyes, 38, cradles her newborn daughter, Jennifer, at their home in Southwest Austin in 2014. While she was pregnant, Reyes nearly died of the H1N1 flu. (Tamir Kalifa for American-Statesman 2014)

The study actually didn’t find any link, says Dr. Sina Haeri, director of perinatal research and co-director of maternal-fetal medicine at St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas. “The devil’s in the details,” he says. Researchers in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention were looking retrospectively at data and the first time they did so, they found no association, he says. The second time when they looked at different data, they found a slight risk, but nothing to cause doctors to stop recommending flu shots for their pregnant patients or patients who are thinking about becoming pregnant.

Dr. Sina Haeri, is the director of perinatal research and co-director of maternal-fetal medicine at St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas

The worry with the flu is the high fever that comes with it. In the first trimester it can cause malformations such as spino bifida, Haeri says.

It’s also not safe for a baby to be at those higher temperatures as the pregnancy progresses. Some of the medications doctors might give to treat the symptoms of the flu also might not be healthy for the baby to have.

In the third trimester or right after a mother gives birth, it’s also dangerous for her to have the flu. This is a time her body is working harder and is more vulnerable to illnesses.

That third trimester is also a time when the baby is pushing up into her lungs. This makes having a respiratory disease especially concerning. Doctors worry about pneumonia, which is not something you want, especially when you’re about to give birth or have just given birth.

Haeri also knows this about his patients: “Healthy women are less likely to get care.”

If they have been otherwise healthy, they don’t worry about the symptoms they are feeling with the flu. They will put off going to the doctor until after it becomes more serious.

If you’re pregnant and haven’t had the flu shot, but are around someone with the flu, Haeri would like you to go ahead and take a flu preventative like a Tamiflu to lessen the chances of getting or lessening the severity of it if you do get it.

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