Pregnancy Guide

The flu vaccine

The flu vaccine in pregnancy

It’s recommended that all pregnant women have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they’re at. Click here to view our vaccination leaflets page which includes information for pregnant women.

Why should pregnant women have the flu vaccine?

Is the flu vaccine safe in pregnancy?

When should I have it?

How do I get the flu vaccine?

If I had the flu jab last year, do I have to have it again now?

Will the flu jab give me flu?

Can I have the flu jab at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine?

I'm pregnant and think I have flu, what should I do?

Video: Beat Flu: Pregnant? Protect yourself and your baby

Why should pregnant women have the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine will protect both you and your baby.

There is good evidence that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia. Other complications are not common, but include:

If a pregnant woman is infected with flu this could mean the baby is born prematurely or has a low birthweight, and can even lead to stillbirth or death in the first week of life.

Is the flu vaccine safe in pregnancy?

Yes. Studies have shown that the flu vaccine can be given safely during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date. The vaccine doesn’t carry risks for either the mother or the baby. Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.

The vaccine also poses no risk to women who are breastfeeding, or to their babies.

When should I have it?

The flu vaccine is available from September until around January or February each year. It is free for pregnant women.

If your eligible for the vaccine, try to have it as soon as possible so that you’ll be protected by the time the flu viruses are circulating in the winter. Don't worry if you find that you're pregnant later on in the flu season, though, you can have the vaccine then if you haven't already had it.

How do I get the flu vaccine?

Contact your midwife or GP to find out where you can get the flu vaccine. It’s a good idea to get vaccinated as soon as possible after the vaccine becomes available in September. In some areas, midwives can give a flu vaccine at the antenatal clinic, while in others you will need an appointment at your GP practice.

If I had the flu jab last year, do I need to have it again now?

Yes, because the viruses that cause flu change every year. This means that the flu (and the vaccine) this year may be different from last year. If you had the flu vaccine last year, either because you were pregnant or because you’re in a vulnerable group, you should have it again this year.

Will the flu jab give me flu?

No. The vaccine doesn’t contain any live viruses, so it can’t cause flu. Some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, and you may feel a bit sore at the injection site.

Can I have the flu jab at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine?

Yes, you can have the flu vaccine when you get the whooping cough vaccine, but do not delay your flu vaccine so that you can have both at the same time.

Pregnant women are at risk of severe illness from flu at any stage of pregnancy, and should have the flu vaccine as soon as possible. You can't have the whooping cough vaccine until you are between 28 and 32 weeks pregnant (although it can be given up to 38 weeks pregnant).

It’s recommended that, for the time being, all pregnant women should get vaccinated against whooping cough when they are 28-32 weeks pregnant to protect their baby. This is a new recommendation, following a sharp rise in whooping cough cases in newborn babies in the UK. You can find out more about the whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy.

I'm pregnant and think I have flu. What should I do?

Talk to your doctor as soon as possible. If you do have flu, there's a prescribed medicine you can take that might help, or reduce your risk of complications, but it needs to be taken very soon after symptoms appear.

Last Updated: 01/04/2017 09:00:00
The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website