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Flu Vaccine and Pregnancy

Influenza (the flu) comes on suddenly with headaches, fever, fatigue, muscle aches, coughing, and sore throat. It can lead to complications such as pneumonia.  Some complications can be life threatening. Certain people have an increased risk of developing flu complications:

  • Adults over 65 years old
  • Children younger than 5 years
  • People who have illnesses or conditions like asthma, heart disease, or cancer
  • Pregnant women

Normal changes in the immune system that occur during pregnancy may increase your risk of flu complications such as preterm labor and delivery, hospitalization, and pneumonia.  Some of these complications can be life threatening. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kelsey-Seybold Clinic recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older, including pregnant women and women breastfeeding, get the flu vaccine annually. 

The flu shot contains a form of the flu virus that is inactivated. It can't cause disease. The shot can be given to pregnant women at any time during pregnancy.  The vaccine triggers your immune system to make antibodies against the flu virus.  Antibodies circulate in the bloodstream. It takes two weeks for the body to build up protective antibodies after you get the flu shot. 

The flu shot protects both you and your baby as you transfer antibodies that fight infection to your baby. These will help your baby until he or she can get the vaccine at 6 months. 

If you think you have the flu contact your doctor – don't wait!

T-dap Immunization

T-dap vaccination during pregnancy is critical for the prevention of pertussis in newborns until they're old enough to be vaccinated.

What is pertussis?

Pertussis (also called whooping cough) is a highly contagious disease that causes severe coughing and difficulty breathing. People with pertussis may make a "whooping" sound when they try to breathe and gasp for air. Pertussis can affect people of all ages and can be serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old. In recent outbreaks, babies younger than 3 months have had the highest risk of severe disease and of dying from pertussis.

What is T-dap?

The tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is used to prevent three infections:

  1. tetanus
  2. diphtheria
  3. pertussis

I'm pregnant. Should I get a T-dap shot?

Yes. All pregnant women should get a T-dap shot in the third trimester, preferably between 27 weeks and 36 weeks of gestation. The Tdap shot is a safe and effective way to protect you and your baby from serious illness and complications of pertussis.

When should I get the T-dap shot?

Experts recommend that you get the Tdap shot during the third trimester (preferably between 27 weeks and 36 weeks) of every pregnancy. The shot will help you make protective antibodies against pertussis. These antibodies are passed to your fetus and protect your baby until he or she begins to get vaccines against pertussis at 2 months of age. Receiving the shot early in the 27 to 36-weeks-of-gestation window is best because it maximizes the antibodies present at birth and will provide the most protection to the newborn.

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