Some infections can harm your baby if you catch them during pregnancy. Research suggests that the flu, in particular strains such as H1N1 (swine flu), can significantly increase the risk of complications to expecting mothers and their unborn babies.
Vaccinating expecting mothers against flu or before pregnancy can provide the newborn baby with significant ‘passive’ protection – which can last several weeks after birth. This is important because babies cannot be vaccinated themselves until they are 6 months old. So, a mother’s vaccination is strongly advised.
Pregnant women are less able to fight off infections and therefore more likely to be seriously ill if they contract the flu virus. Pregnant women are at risk of complications from the flu at any stage of pregnancy. So therefore, it is important for those expecting to get their flu jab as early as possible.
If you are currently planning your pregnancy, it would be sensible to consider getting your flu jab prior to becoming pregnant.
The flu vaccine can safely be given to pregnant women at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine. You can have the whooping cough vaccine from 16 weeks onwards.
The vaccine is inactivated, and cannot cause flu itself. Having the flu vaccine is the best protection.