Flu season has arrived! The World Health Organization has declared that pregnant women should receive the highest priority for influenza vaccine. This is backed up by extensive research and endorsed in Australia by all state Health Departments, the NH&MRC, the Royal College of Obstetricians/Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Paediatricians.
Pregnant women have a lowered immunity and are more likely to catch influenza. They are also more likely to develop a severe response resulting in complications such as pneumonia requiring hospital admission. This obviously puts them and their unborn baby at risk. If the baby is born during flu season, it will be at risk of picking up the virus during it's first few vulnerable months of life.
The flu vaccine does not contain a live virus and it does not give you the flu. It simply exposes your immune system to parts of the dead virus and allows you to mount a rapid response if you do eventually come into contact with the virus. It is safe to be given at any time during pregnancy and provides protection to the baby for up to 6 months after birth.
Some women may have minor side effects from the vaccine including swelling, redness, headache or fever. These will generally resolve within a few days. Occasionally an allergic reaction may occur. Those women allergic to egg should discuss the risk with their doctor.
Further information is available here and please feel free to discuss the pros and cons of the flu vaccine with your Obstetrician or GP.