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The flu during pregnancy

It’s recommended that all pregnant women get a flu vaccine. This is because pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get the flu, sometimes resulting in a hospital admission.

Flu complications can increase the risk of your baby being born early or at a low birth weight.

Flu is very infectious, once you’re infected symptoms can appear very quickly and are often more severe than they are with a common cold.

Symptoms can include:

  • Aches and pains in the body
  • A temperature of over 38C
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Dry cough

If you’re pregnant and you think you might have flu, speak to a GP or NHS 111 as soon as possible.

Reducing the risk of flu infection

The best way to boost your immunity is to get a flu vaccine. Flu vaccines are safe to receive at any stage of pregnancy and for those who are breastfeeding. All pregnant women are eligible for a free vaccine on the NHS.

The viruses that cause flu change every year, which is why flu vaccines are rolled out annually. Even if you had a vaccine last year, you’ll need another one this year to stay protected.

To receive a vaccine, speak to your GP surgery. Depending on your location, it might be possible to get a vaccine from a midwife at your antenatal appointment or to receive one at a participating community pharmacy.

Your baby will even receive some immunity to flu via antibodies passed through the placenta and breastmilk, which will protect them for the first few months after birth.

Minor side effects to the flu vaccine (such as a sore arm, muscle aches and a fever) are quite common, but getting the flu would be much worse. And as the vaccine is not live, you cannot catch flu from the vaccination itself.

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Page last reviewed: 26-01-2022

Next review due: 26-01-2025