1st Trimester

Flu Shot While Pregnant?

Yesterday my doctor told me to go ahead and get a flu shot; she said it is very important for pregnant women. Today they are offering it for free at my workplace.

The problem is that I normally don't get the flu shot. The few times that I have gotten it in the past, I have gotten horribly sick from it (as in, actually got a cold/flu immediately afterward.) As opposed to other vaccines, which I think are important, I honestly don't believe in the effectiveness of the flu shot because I feel that the flu virus mutates so fast, by the time they've developed the 2010 flu shot and distributed it, the virus has already mutated to the point where the vaccine isn't that effective.

Anyway, I don't feel that comfortable getting the flu shot. I don't think they've done enough research on how it affects babies and children, or you while you are pregnant. I've been trying to get pregnant for three years now, and am finally pregnant after IVF - is getting the flu shot really worth the risk of something going wrong because of it?

Has anyone done any research on this topic? What are your feelings about it? I know that a lot of doctors recommend it, but I also personally know a lot of doctors who don't agree with it. Thoughts?

 

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Re: Flu Shot While Pregnant?

  • I have a friend that just got her Phd in emerging infectious diseases (she was VERY excited about the Swine Flu) and she highly suggests that pregnant women get the flu shot.  Our immune systems get compromised more easily and I just wouldn't risk it.  I got my first flu shot last year, right after having my daughter. 

    Also, the flu shot won't make you sick.  It can make you feel off for a couple of days, but if you got the actual flu or other virus, it was a coincidence, I think. 

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  • I'm really glad that you posted this topic.  I was scheduled for my flu shot last week but had to postpone because I came down with a cold.  Now I'm having second thoughts about it.  We too were trying for a while and finally conceived through IUI and I'm nervous about the effects of the flu shot on the baby.  I've never had a flu shot so I'm really not sure what type of reaction I might have.  Both my OB and primary Dr are telling me that I have to get the flu shot.
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  • Here is a link to the mayo clinic page about this topic - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/influenza/AN00651

     

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    jessican08
  • Well, I don't agree at all that there is not enough research on how it affects babies and children and I don't know where you would have gotten that idea, but I won't argue that point with you. I will tell you that if you get the flu when you're pregnant, which is more likely because your immune system is compromised, you will be much more likely to wind up in the hospital. A serious respiratory illness is no joke when your lung capacity is already half what it was because a baby is squashing all your internal organs. If it makes you feel any better, I got the shot during both of my last pregnancies and my kids are fine.

    PrimRoseMamajessican08
  • H1N1 ESPECIALLY affects pregnant women more severely than the rest of the population.  By the end of last year's flu season, it was determined that 5% of pregnant women who were HOSPITALIZED (not diagnosed) with H1N1, died of the virus.  5 in 100 women.....Here is a link from the Journal of the American Medical Association backing that up:

    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/303/15/1517 

    That alone is enough to make me want to get it.   I am simply not willing to risk my life when there is a vaccine available.  As a pregnant woman, you want to make sure you do not get a vaccine with the live virus, and if you don't get that, then you should not have any major side effects.

    I can certainly understand your hesitation, after everything you have been through to get pregnant.....there have been NO studies that have shown any adverse effects that the flu vaccine has had on the baby.  Some doctors might tell you to wait until 2nd tri to get the vaccine, but that is not bc of any risk to the baby, more because you are more likely to m/c in the 1st trimester in general and people can incorrectly blame the vaccine.

    Anyway, it is, of course, a personal decision, but FOR ME, I am not willing to risk my life over something as minor as a vaccine.  My older sister is an epidemiologist for the CDC and she has been pregnant through two flu seasons and has received the flu vaccine both times, and also given the vaccine to her children.

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  • My dr told me to get the flu shot as well and she said to get the mercury free flu shot and that is what I got. This was the first time I have receiving the flu shot 
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  • The flu vaccine this year includes H1N1.  H1N1 is dangerous in pregnant women and has an especially high mortality for pregnant women.  This is enough reason for me to get it.

    My doctor wants to wait until after the 1st trimester before giving it though so thats what I'm doing.

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  • image angb77:

    Yesterday my doctor told me to go ahead and get a flu shot; she said it is very important for pregnant women. Today they are offering it for free at my workplace.

    The problem is that I normally don't get the flu shot. The few times that I have gotten it in the past, I have gotten horribly sick from it (as in, actually got a cold/flu immediately afterward.) As opposed to other vaccines, which I think are important, I honestly don't believe in the effectiveness of the flu shot because I feel that the flu virus mutates so fast, by the time they've developed the 2010 flu shot and distributed it, the virus has already mutated to the point where the vaccine isn't that effective.

    Anyway, I don't feel that comfortable getting the flu shot. I don't think they've done enough research on how it affects babies and children, or you while you are pregnant. I've been trying to get pregnant for three years now, and am finally pregnant after IVF - is getting the flu shot really worth the risk of something going wrong because of it?

    Has anyone done any research on this topic? What are your feelings about it? I know that a lot of doctors recommend it, but I also personally know a lot of doctors who don't agree with it. Thoughts?

     

    Hope this persepctive helps: I was pregnant this time last year when the Swine Flu was huge and it was a VERY hard decision for me to make. I was baout 25-26 weeks pregnant this time of year and because I am prone to illnesses (meaning I have a history of getting sick often), I chose to get both an influenza a and swine flu vac. I am SO GLAD that I did. If you get sick with either flu, pregnant women can develop pnemonia very easily which is what lands them in the hospital and becomes life threatening. I hear your concern about trying for so long to get pregnant but in my mind, your health comes first. If you're not healthy, your baby isn't healthy.

    PrimRoseMamajessican08ekf25
  • I would worry about what the possible effects of NOT having the vaccine would have on your unborn baby. People forget that influenza still kills TONS of people each year and it is the combination of influenza and the resulting pneumonia that can occur secondary to it that is deadly. High fevers, dehydration and infection can be much more risky to your baby than the vaccine. Also, if you get the injection it is a dead vaccine, no way possible you could get influenza from it....you must have gotten a different viral illness around the same time as a coincidence.
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    PrimRoseMamablessednewmom1ekf25
  • I got mine this week.  I don't want to risk harming my babies.  The chance of flu is MUCH greater without the flu shot, and the idea of having a terrible fever for days with the flu worries me too much.  Research supports the flu shot and its effectiveness.  The decision is yours of course, and you may do as you like, but for me, it was an easy decision. 
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  • Thanks for the advice, everyone. I guess, like a lot of the previous posts mentioned, I would feel a lot more comfortable waiting to do anything like this until after the 1st trimester is over. Unfortunately for me, by the time my 1st trimester is over, it will be December already. I know the most active time for flu season is November - January.
  • I got the flu shot at 12wk 2d at my OBGYN's office since they offer the preservtative-free shots.

    I'd never gotten a flu shot prior because I never get the flu but I'm not taking chances while pregnant. As others have mentioned, your immune system is suppressed while pregnant and what could otherwise be a minor cold could last much longer & be more debilating (I got sick from 5-7 weeks with a headcold that lasted 2 weeks when normally I rarely get sick and can kick a cold within a week). I am not taking a chance with the flu, which is obviously much worse than a simple cold.

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  • image angb77:
    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I guess, like a lot of the previous posts mentioned, I would feel a lot more comfortable waiting to do anything like this until after the 1st trimester is over. Unfortunately for me, by the time my 1st trimester is over, it will be December already. I know the most active time for flu season is November - January.

    Why do you want to wait until you're out of the 1st tri? Getting the flu shot is recommended by the majority of doctors for pregnant women and if anythign were to happen with a loss (God forbid) it would be WAY more likely to be the result of an organic / chromosomal defect that anything you could have done.   ETA - according to the Mayo Clinic page posted above, the flu could actually lead to miscarriage so I'd feel much safer knowing I was protected.

    Big Sister ~ Little Brother

  • I asked about a flue shot when I went to the doctor to confirm pregnancy.  He didn't hesitate, and I had the shot that day.
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    PrimRoseMama
  • I got the flu shot 2 days before I found out I was pregnant, and it wasn't the preservative-free one. It wouldn't have changed my mind otherwise.

    Unfortunately, when one says they got the flu right after they got the shot, it really means that they have had it brewing in their systems and it just so happen that it coincided with the flu shot. It's important to remember there are many types of viruses out there that can cause the flu. The vaccine contains the anti-flu for only 3 selected viruses that is predicted to make the most appearance. If you got some cold after you got the flu shot, just think your symptoms would have been much worse if you didn't have the vaccine.

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  • A lot of doctors seem to recommend waiting until after the first trimester. I am not sure why. If you read our boards, and other boards, a lot of people are saying that.

    From http://www.pamf.org/flu/preg.html 

    Many experts (including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) believe the flu shot may be given in all three trimesters of pregnancy. Some physicians prefer to wait until after the first trimester 

    People certainly seem to feel passionately about this issue! I am surprised that no one else feels nervous about getting this besides just me and the one other poster on this board.

     

     

  • Lots of pregnant women are nervous about the flu shot. In fact, I'd say that MOST are. But most have also done their research, as you can see by the responses, and have decided that getting the shot = less risk than NOT getting the shot.

    The flu shot CAN NOT give you the flu. The shot contains dead viruses. If you got sick after the shot in the past, it was a coiincidence. The only side effect most people have is soreness at the injection site for a day. The shot contains three viruses that medical researchers have predicted will be the most active strains in the coming season - this is how it is manufactured every year. This year's strains are H1N1, H3N2, and Influenza B. This does mean, however, that you can still catch a strain of the flu that is not contained in the shot. But you will be protected from the three most prevalent strains.

    Pregnant women are immuno-suppressed. The CDC, AMA, and most doctors strongly urge the flu shot for pregnant women and other immuno-suppressed populations because of how easily we can catch viruses and how easily complications can develop. The flu itself is dangerous to a fetus because of the fever - complications are dangerous to both mom and baby.

    One of the reasons I see most often for getting the shot is that the immunity is passed to your baby and will protect him/her for the first 6 months of his/her life, when he/she can not get vaccines and is highly susceptible to viruses.

    You seem to not be on solid ground either way, so I suggest you take some time to do research and talk to more doctors. This may sound funny coming from someone posting on a message board, but don't listen to alarmist hype you read on the internet. Get the facts from reliable medical sources only and make your decision from there. You can get the shot in 1st tri, but if you choose not to, December is not too late. Better late than never. The mayo clinic's site posted above is good, as is the CDC's web site: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm

    GL.

    ETA: You probably deduced this from my post, but after I did my research and talked to several docs, I got my shot last week. I had no side effects aside from the sore arm. I have never gotten the shot before, but saw no reason not to give myself the extra immunity while pregnant.

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    GhostMonkey
  • I got my flu shot the same day I got my BFP.  It is very important for you to get it.  And as PP mentioned, if you get sick immediately after the shot, it's a fluke not the shot.  I'm a medic, and see this a lot.  Ask the people giving you the shot, they'll be able to give you more info that may set your mind at ease.
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  • It also takes two weeks for it to be effective and if you have symptoms of the flu in that window you need to call your doctor/midwife IMMEDIATELY so they can monitor you and perhaps get you on Tamiflu. I personally would rather get it now before November and have it be effective for the majority of flu season than risk it and wait until December when you are out of 1st tri. Yeah, you may still get the flu but at least you've protected yourself as much as you can.
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  • it was mandatory at my work. I work in a hospital :-)

    they may offer the nasal one too....def get the shot. the nasal one is a live virus or something and a no no for preg woman.

    we were trying at the time (and I was actually preg but didnt know yet), so Im glad I brought that up to her. Not that I like the idea of the nasal one anyway.

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  • OP - I'm also assuming your doctor knows your struggle with getting pregnant and your history with your IVF, etc. If she's still recommending you get it (and not telling you to wait until you're out of 1st Tri) then I'd trust her professional opinion. But...that's me and how I'd approach it. And I'm not sure if you directed your comment about "if you read our board" at me or others, but I've been reading (and posting) on this board for awhile now - now 2nd Tri mostly - but I have seen a lot of flu shot posts over the past weeks and the general consensus is that people get them - and many are like me where they wouldn't necessarily have done it in the past but now being pregnant, it changes things and I realize that there's risk not only to me but to the baby if I do end up with the flu this season.

    Best of luck to you and with your decision.

    Big Sister ~ Little Brother

  • I got mine yesterday at the OB's office. I had a weird physical reaction to it but I'm still glad I did it.

  • I am 6 weeks right now and never gotten a flu shot before even though I am a high school teacher and around kids all the time.  In my seven years of teaching, I have had only 2 sick days.  I am nervous about the shot because I don't know what side effects I will get and when to get it.  My husband says he'll go with me and get it as well since he knows I hate needles.  My 1st doctor's appt is Friday so I can get more info then.  Any good advice anyone  here can give me?
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  • I only have a few weeks to go in my pregnancy, and the shot just came up a few weeks ago with my doctor. I have decided not to get it as I am so close, and just recovering from a cold so I didn't want to get it when I was already compromised.

    It's obviously not an easy decision. Had it been just the regular flu shot, I probably would have had it since I've never had a bad reaction before but the two times I've had the flu were AWFUL. But the H1N1 gave me pause. They don't study the effects of these on pregnant women other than I think one tiny study for H1N1 vaccine last year, and I just don't want to be in the experimental group. And there are sites with quite a bit of anecdotal evidence of women miscarrying or having pre-term labor just after a shot containing the H1N1. This is NOT scientific evidence, but it is out there. And could be totally coincidental, but it did weigh into my decision.

    I just can't find the shot separated here. So I think it is a risk either way, like so many things, and you have to decide what is best for you. I know I'm lucky in a sense since I am almost at the end, and it is a tougher decision early on for a lot of women. But if you decide not to get it, and you get any flu like symptoms especially fever, go to the doctor right away and get treated with Tamiflu! Good luck in your decision--whatever you choose will be right for you.

     

  • I'm 35 weeks preggers and just recently got the H1N1/Flu conbination vaccine.  I do feel it's more of a risk not getting the vaccine than getting it.  It is highly recommended for pregnant women.  If something were to happen it would not be caused from getting the shot.  Just DO NOT get the nasal spray.  After the shot, my baby boy is still moving like crazy in my belly!
  • I totally agree with you. I am 32 weeks pregnant and was also told by my doctors to get the flu shot. No way I am going to do that. I am originally from Poland and our government didn't even order or purchased these vaccinations last year because the research were not complete. If  you were in Poland the doctors wouldn't even allow you to take the shot when you're pregnant. That's their first question they ask you.. if you are pregnant. If you are, forget they will give it to you.

    I also personally know people who work for big baby food and pharmaceutical products manufacturing companies and work with doctors on daily basis. They told me, that I should never agree to this shot if I am pregnant.

    Same as you, I got it ones 3 years ago and got sick like I've never been before. I am not taking it, especially now when I am pregnant. There are other ways you can protect yourself from getting sick. Just be careful and if anything... drink TNI noni juice, it will boost your immune system and you can also use natural oils like for example Young Living. Just be careful because some of them cannot be used during pregnancy. I am using Lavender and although people say that Peppermint is not recommended i had used it few times a day rubbing on my throat just recently when I had a little sore throat. I think if you use a little, it is not going to harm you or your baby. And drink home made lemonade (lot of Vitamine C) and you will be fine. 

    All those vaccinations are just a way for doctors and pharmaceutical companies to get bonuses and make money. Why would you release some medicine and give it to pregnant women if you know you don't have enough research to proof that its going to be working without harming people? 

  • I received the flu shot at about 8 weeks at my OBGYN's recommendation.  I work for a visiting nurse association, and they heavily promote the flu shot.  It is true your immune system is weakened when you are pregnant, so even if you tend to avoid the flu most seasons you could be more susceptible now.  I would discuss your concerns with your MD and ultimately do what makes you feel comfortable.  I agree with a previous post, though, that on most of these boards the consensus seems to lean towards getting the flu shot.  Good luck!
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  • I was never big on getting the flu shot either at work but I got a cold while I was pregnant last year and it was very hard to breath that it scared me so I received the mecury free H1N1 shot from my obstetrician (The ones given out at my work were not mecury free).  My son is now 5 months and is growing beautifully.  My sister is now pregnant as well and gets terrible colds easily so I am going to make sure she gets vaccinated as well.  I know, it is a scary decision but I trust my doctors and they made me feel confident that getting the vaccine is the right choice to take.
  • Go for it, I'm 11 weeks and just got my flu shot yesterday

    I work in the NICU/PICU and long term pediatric care with infants who are severely medically fragile and developmentally delayed, unfortunately many of the babies are there because of something that could have been prevented so I am EXTREMELY cautious with everything. I had never gotten the vaccine before but as soon as my colleagues and OB suggested it, I went for it. Aside from the usual 1st trimester complaints, and some soreness at the injection site, I felt fine. Overall- Drs and providers are not legally or ethically able to offer you or any other patients a type of healthcare service where the risks outweigh the benefits. So keep that in mind.

  • I also am concerned about getting the flu shot while I am pregnant. THAT IS WHY I AM NOT GOING TO GET IT! I feel as though it is not worth it for me to put anything that i dont normally have into my body while I am pregnant. I have gotten the flu shot once and got horribly sick afterwards. I feel the shot lowers your immune system for just long enough for something to take hold and then you get sick. Why should I take the chance and get sick?  As long as I take precautions to stay away from people who are sick (or wear a mask around them) and wash my hands I will be fine and so will my son. I will not risk putting the flu shot into our bodies just because my doctor and the CDC says its safe. How do they know that the shot they created just last year will be safe for anyone, let alone pregnant women? It's a risk I am not willing to take.
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