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Maternal Immunization

RWJBarnabas Health Answers Questions About Pregnancy, Flu Shots & Other Vaccinations

Mother cuddling her newborn babyAt RWJBarnabas Health, our Maternity Centers offer a personalized approach to maternity care. We care for mothers-to-be and their families as they welcome a new baby into the world. We emphasize that pregnancy is more than just about becoming a parent, but ensuring your health and well-being before, during, and after the birth of your newborn.

To that end, we strongly encourage pregnant women to receive influenza immunization, better known as the flu shot, to protect themselves and their developing babies. This is the recommendation from physicians who are experts in maternal-fetal medicine, as well as obstetrician/gynecologists, and immunologists.

Why Should I Get the Flu Shot While Pregnant?

With so many medical treatments and lifestyle choices off limits during pregnancy, it’s understandable you’d be nervous about the safety and effectiveness of getting the flu shot while pregnant. If you’re pondering “should I get the flu shot during pregnancy?” The answer is unequivocally “yes.” It is an essential part of pre-pregnancy, prenatal, and postpartum care.

The other preventative vaccine recommended for pregnant women is the Tdap shot. This is one shot that helps prevent three infections: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. The Tdap shot is a safe way to protect you and your baby from complications of pertussis also known as whooping cough.

Reasons You Need to Get the Flu Shot While Pregnant

The top three reasons you need the flu vaccine during pregnancy as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) are:

  1. The flu is a serious illness that can be life-threatening for mother and baby: It is especially important to be vaccinated, because getting the flu is often much more severe in pregnant women, and it can harm the developing baby, as well. Symptoms of the flu vary, but can harm both the mother and fetus. If a pregnant woman does get the flu, there is a higher risk of contracting pneumonia and the need for emergency medical care. A pregnant woman who gets the flu also has a greater chance for premature labor and delivery. The reason why this happens is because there are significant changes in the immune system, heart and lungs that occur during pregnancy that makes a woman more prone to severe illness from the flu.
  2. The flu shots protects the baby after birth: Infants are not able to be vaccinated as newborns. The flu shot during pregnancy can protect your newborn from getting the flu, until the baby is old enough to get the vaccine directly. If you have already given birth and you are breastfeeding, you can get the flu shot, which will protect the baby as the antibodies the mother forms to protect her from the flu are passed to the infant through her breast milk.
  3. The flu shot is safe and effective: Both the mother-to-be and her baby benefit from the flu shot, regardless of the trimester of her pregnancy. Also, it’s a myth that the flu shot can cause the flu. Numerous studies have disproven this misconception, including clinical trials and data from safety reporting systems.

Let’s Be Healthy Together. Contact us at RWJBarnabas Health to request a maternity tour at our New Jersey hospital.

Patient Stories

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