Flu shots safe and effective for pregnant women

December 7 2012
BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre and the BC Centre for Disease Control are reminding pregnant women of the importance of getting a flu shot.

Pregnant women who get the flu are more at risk of serious complications, such as pneumonia and preterm labour and preterm delivery.

The flu shot not only protects pregnant women, it also provides some protection to the baby, both during pregnancy and after the baby is born. Once the baby is born, breastfeeding provides additional protection to keep the baby healthy from respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.

Some women worry that getting the flu shot during pregnancy could pose a risk to the baby. Research has shown that the flu vaccine is safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy. There is no evidence of harm to pregnant women or their babies from getting the flu shot.

In BC, the flu shot is free for pregnant women. The risk of influenza-related hospitalizations in pregnant women increases as their pregnancy progresses, and is highest in the third trimester. Flu shots are provided free to all British Columbians who are at risk of developing complications, or those who have close contact with at-risk individuals.

The influenza vaccine that is given by nasal spray is not yet approved for use in pregnancy so pregnant women should receive the flu shot.

Learn more:

Dr. Deborah Money, vice-president, research, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre

“Pregnant women are always interested in doing the best they can to optimize the health of their developing fetus and newborn. The flu shot is a simple thing they can do to greatly decrease the chance of getting flu during pregnancy or post partum. There is strong evidence that it is harmful for women and their infant if they develop true flu during pregnancy and excellent evidence that being vaccinated prevents most cases of flu. I encourage women to take advantage of this preventative opportunity.”

Dr. Monika Naus, medical director, immunization, BC Centre for Disease Control 
“Studies of thousands of pregnant women who received a flu shot have shown no evidence of harm to women and their babies. Pregnant women can be confident that it is safe to get a flu shot. I encourage all women to take advantage of the opportunity to get a free flu shot especially if they will be in their third trimester during flu season.”

BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre and the BC Centre for Disease Control are agencies of the Provincial Health Services Authority, a specialist in prevention. PHSA is committed to sharing our expertise and knowledge to promote health and prevent illness, manage chronic conditions and lessen the burden of disease in high risk populations.

For more information or to arrange an interview:

Media Contact:
Patrick Blennerhassett
Communications Officer
Provincial Health Services Authority
Media pager: 604-871-5699


[Photo: Dr. Deb Money, VP Research BC Women’s, obstetrician and gynecologist, and Aimee Self, pregnant mother (on right)]

[Article credit: PHSA News Release]