Free Flu Vaccine for Pregnant Women – Should you have it?
The influenza vaccine provides protection for both mothers and their babies after they are born, and is an important part of any pregnancy and can be had at any stage of pregnancy.
It is available free (Government funded) for all pregnant women at Waverley GP.
Why should pregnant women get it?
The Australian Government and Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommend that all pregnant women be offered vaccination against flu.
To protect themselves – Getting the flu can cause serious problems when you are pregnant. Even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to get seriously ill from the flu. Pregnant women who get the flu are at higher risk of hospitalisation, and even death, than non-pregnant women.
To protect their baby – When you get your influenza vaccination, your body starts to make antibodies that help protect you against the flu. Antibodies can be passed on to your unborn baby, and help protect the baby for up to 6 months after he or she is born. This is important because babies younger than 6 months of age are too young to get an influenza vaccine. Babies are 25% less likely to be hospitalised from flu-related illness if their mum's are immunised against flu while pregnant. Severe illness in the pregnant mother can also be dangerous to her unborn baby because it increases the chance for serious problems such as premature labour and delivery. Risk of stillbirth is reduced by up to 51% in pregnant women who are immunised against flu. If you breastfeed your infant, antibodies made in response your influenza vaccination may also be passed in breast milk and provide additional protection to your newborn.
The World Health Organisation recommends that pregnant women should receive the highest priority for influenza vaccination.
Is it Safe?
Yes. The influenza vaccine has been given safely to millions of pregnant women worldwide over many years. Influenza vaccinations have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. Multiple studies confirm normal growth and health in babies with no excess in birth defects, cancers or developmental problems including learning, hearing, speech and vision.
Since 2012, the Department of Health has monitored the safety of influenza vaccine in pregnant women and has found no serious safety issues following vaccination.