Vaccinations
NHS Choices

Flu vaccine for pregnant women

It’s recommended that all pregnant women have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they’re at.

Why should pregnant women have the flu vaccine?

Is the flu vaccine safe in pregnancy?

When should I have it?

How do I get the flu vaccine?

If I had the flu vaccine last year, do I have to have it again now?

Will the flu vaccine give me flu?

Can I have the flu vaccine at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine? 

I'm pregnant and think I have flu. What should I do?  

Video: Beat Flu: Pregnant? Protect yourself and your baby

Why are pregnant women advised to have the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine will protect both you and your baby.

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 increases the chance of your baby being born prematurely or with a low birthweight, and may even lead to stillbirth or death in the first week of life.

Is the flu vaccine safe in pregnancy?

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

Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives when they are most vulnerable.

When should I have the flu jab?

The flu vaccine is normally available from the end of September and it is free for pregnant women.

If you're eligible for the vaccine, try to have it as soon as possible so that you’ll be protected by the time the flu viruses are circulating in the winter. If you find that you're pregnant later on in the flu season, though, have the vaccine then if you haven’t already had it.

How do I get the flu vaccine?

Contact your midwife, GP or community pharmacist to find out where you can get the flu vaccine. It’s a good idea to get vaccinated as soon as possible after the vaccine becomes available at the end of September. In some areas, midwives give flu vaccines at antenatal clinic, while in others you will need an appointment at your GP practice.

If I had the flu vaccine last year, do I need to have it again now?

Yes, because the viruses that cause flu change every year. This means that the flu (and the vaccine) this year may be different from last year. If you had the flu vaccine last year, either because you were pregnant or because you’re in a vulnerable group, you need to have it again this year.

Will the flu jab give me flu?

No. The vaccine can’t cause flu. Some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, and you may feel a bit sore at the injection site.

Can I have the flu vaccine at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine?

Yes, you can have the flu vaccine at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine, but don't delay your flu vaccine simply so you can have both at the same time.

Pregnant women are at risk of severe illness from flu at any stage of pregnancy, and so really need to have the flu vaccine as soon as possible. You will be  offered the whooping cough vaccine from 16 to  32 weeks pregnant (although it can be given up to 38 weeks pregnant).

It’s recommended that, for the time being, all pregnant women should get vaccinated against whooping cough when they are 16-32 weeks pregnant to protect their baby  following a sharp rise in whooping cough cases in newborn babies in the UK.

I'm pregnant and think I have flu. What should I do?

Talk to your doctor as soon as possible. If you do have flu, there's a prescribed medicine you can take that might help, or reduce your risk of complications, but it needs to be taken very soon after symptoms appear.

Leaflets

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Last Updated: 01/04/2017 09:00:00