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Pregnancy and the Flu

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Catching the flu is never good, and especially not when you’re expecting. The illness can be more severe when you’re pregnant, and it may last three times longer in moms-to-be. You may be more likely to get complications like pneumonia, too.

On the bright side, it isn’t likely to hurt your baby. And being pregnant doesn’t make you any more likely to get the flu than women your age who aren’t expecting. Best of all, there are easy ways to avoid it and have a healthy pregnancy.

What's the Best Way to Prevent the Flu?

Get a flu shot. The vaccine is the number one way to prevent this illness. You can get the shot no matter how far along you are -- even the third trimester isn’t too late.

Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but you can get a shot as late as January.

The shot will protect both you and the baby from getting the flu for 6 months after you give birth. This is especially important, because the flu shot isn’t safe for infants less than 6 months old.

Is the Flu Shot Safe?

It doesn’t contain the live virus and can’t give you the flu. You may have fatigue and muscle aches afterward as your immune system responds to the vaccine.

The flu shot is also OK while you’re breastfeeding. It can’t cause you or your nursing baby to get sick. The shot takes about 2 weeks to work.

Pregnant women should not get the nasal flu vaccine.

Where Do You Get a Flu Shot?

The American Lung Association offers an online flu vaccine clinic locator. Visit the site, enter a zip code and a date (or dates), and you’ll get information about clinics in your area.

There’s also a nasal flu vaccine called FluMist that contains live but weakened viruses. The nasal flu vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy because it hasn’t been tested in pregnant women. The FluMist nasal vaccine can be used in other healthy people between 2 and 49 years old.

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