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11 weeks pregnant and been offered the flu jab through work, lots of conflicting advice on the net, what do you think?

(54 Posts)
not12weeksyet Thu 18-Nov-10 11:42:57

I'm normally of very good health but this pregnancy I'm suffering from hyperemesis which makes me worry that my immune system won't be as sturdy as it usually is. Would this be a factor in deciding whether to have the jab or not? I know it's not a live vaccine but there are still stories about of it making people ill.

My doctor recommended it but my midwife says there can be risks and it's personal choice.

The jabs are tomorrow and I've not got to the 'safe' 12 week mark yet.

If I didn't have the jab and I got flu (never had it before) I'd obviously feel like crap and need time off work but would there be a danger to my baby?

NHS website (obviously pro-vaccination) comments section is full of rants and horror stories from posters.

What are others doing?

nparkin Thu 18-Nov-10 11:46:50

I had a flu jab for free at my doctors but later on than 12 weeks. I was never told of any downsides or complications with it, last year because of the swine flu epidemic they insisted that pregnant women get the jab.

I would say wait until a few weeks time when you are out of the more dangerous time of early pregnancy and then get one. I odnt want to get ill while pregnant espeically with it been winter.

MrsBuble Thu 18-Nov-10 11:49:02

I didn't get any jabs when I was pregnant last year because my gut just said no. You just have to go with your instincts, there are plenty of arguments for it either way.

not12weeksyet Thu 18-Nov-10 11:51:57

well I'm feeling like death warmed up with the hyperemesis so anything else I think would just finish me off!

MrsBuble I know what you mean about gut feelings, and my gut is steering me away from it tbh

Sidge Thu 18-Nov-10 11:53:12

Pregnant women are being offered the flu jab mainly to protect them against swine flu (which is included in this year's seasonal flu jab), which is still doing the rounds and anticipated to be a big issue this winter.

Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to swine flu, and more likely to be hospitalised and suffer complications if they catch it.

The flu jab can give you a sore achy arm, and some people get a generalised immune response where they get a headache and temperature for 24-48 hours.

yellowmo Thu 18-Nov-10 11:56:00

Hi, I'm around 10 weeks I have the flu jab I'm going to wait til after the 12weeks. Are your workplace only offering the jabs on one day? You should be able to get it through your docs if not. Hope that helps?

not12weeksyet Thu 18-Nov-10 12:03:24

I've had the flu jab through work for a few years running now and never had any ill effects other than a sore arm, but there's just something about being pregnant that's making me much more cautious about putting stuff in my body

They are only offering it on the one day. I'm not sure if I feel so uneasy because I'm still quite early on, perhaps getting a later jab with the GP might be an idea

loueytbg Thu 18-Nov-10 12:18:53

I've had it already (at 5wks pg). Didn't think twice about having it - would have preferred to wait until 12 wks but that would be christmas and now is prime flu season so didn't want to take the risk of geting flu in the meantime. I had flu a couple of years ago (in November IIR) and was really really ill for a couple of weeks and I was not pg and very fit at the time. The idea of getting flu when I'm pg does not bear thinking about. Side-effect wise - had a sore arm for a couple of days but nothing else.

As you've said, its not a live virus (so can't give you flu) and it doesn't contain thimerosal (mercury based preservative) that I know some people are worried about particularly when they are pg.

NHS is recommending it to all pg women this year at any stage of pg so you can go to GP and have it done there if you want to wait a couple of weeks.

angels1 Thu 18-Nov-10 12:27:23

Do work know you're pg? We get offered flu jab through work every year but this year they told me I wasn't allowed it even if I wanted to (something to do with H&S and insurance). Work told me if I wanted the jab I had to do it via my GP/NHS.

thefurryone Thu 18-Nov-10 12:44:05

At my booking appointment I was given loads of info about Swine flu but like you felt really sceptical about whether or not I should have it done, but in the end I had the new combined swine & seasonal flu jab at 16 weeks. What changed my mind was hearing about incidences of swine flu not a million miles away from where I live coupled by the fact that through work I am very likely to come into contact with people who have either type of flu.

We all have our own views on the risks we are willing to take and different circumstances mean we face different risks but for me in the end it came down to having heard worse things about the complications caused by flu in pregnant women than about pregnant women having the virus.

My midwife did check I was over 12 weeks before she gave it to me though and for some reason I had to go to the ante-natal clinic and get it, rather than just get it from my GP. So you may want to call and check what they have to say about this and whether or not they'd advise you against getting it at work.

thefurryone Thu 18-Nov-10 12:45:00

BTW I meant pregnant women having the vaccine not the virus!

cake4breakfast Thu 18-Nov-10 12:56:35

I was given the flu jab as I am asthmatic but I was unaware at the time that I was a couple of weeks pg.

Is this likely to have done any harm?

Dummyhunter Thu 18-Nov-10 13:06:26

I had the same thing - decilned the swine flu jab as hubby wasn't keen and took the flu jab - no one mentioned a 12wk thing and l was only 9 wks. DD is 7months old and very healthy.

Tangle Thu 18-Nov-10 13:42:05

"If I didn't have the jab and I got flu (never had it before) I'd obviously feel like crap and need time off work but would there be a danger to my baby"

In a word, yes.

I was pregnant last year, due late Jan. I declined the swine flu jab as I was basically healthy and have never had flu. I caught it. I became very ill (D&V for a day leading to very low blood pressure - 60/30) and wound up being ambulanced to hospital. When we got there we found out DD2's heart had stopped beating and she was stillborn a few days later.

We declined an autopsy, but tests done on the cord and placenta did not find any trace of swine flu there (although I tested +ve). We figure my body was working so hard just to keep me alive that supplying oxygen to a baby as well just couldn't happen.

Depressing story out of the way, even with my experience I wouldn't tell women what they should do - there is a lot of conflicting information and every individual will weigh the risks differently based on their own personal history. If I was doing it again I'd probably have the combined flu jab once I was out of the 1st trimester. NHS advice this year is for all pregnant women to be offered the flu jab so you should be able to arrange it through your GP in a few weeks.

cake4breakfast - I don't think there is any research to suggest that having the flu vaccine in the 1st trimester leads to problems. Indeed, as has already been said, NHS/DoH advice is to have it at any stage of pregnancy. IMO its more a case of vaccination in pregnancy not having that much research, especially so in the 1st trimester. As an asthmatic, catching flu in the 1st trimester would have much bigger potential implications than for a non-asthmatic pregnant lady so the benefits for you are greater. You made the best decision you could with the information you had - that's all any of us can do at any point.

coraltoes Thu 18-Nov-10 14:24:00

My GP said there had been no recorded cases of Swine flu this winter and it was not expected to be an epidemic like last year. On that basis I have not had the jab. I am not happy about being told to have a jab that seems unnecessary. If/when swine flu reappears there will be a mass call for pregnant patients to be vaccinated. I'll wait for that. Basically i'm concerned at the lack of assurances of safety to the baby through vaccination programs such as the swine flu one, and I can't help but feel the NHS has a hell of a lot of jabs to get through after stockpiling...

lucielooo Thu 18-Nov-10 14:34:53

When this was discussed before I couldn't see any actual evidence of any risks other than peoples gut feelings but some evidence of why it was beneficial. In the end I opted to have it, my reasons being

1. It's not a live virus therefore doesn't put flu in your system. In fact the nurse mentioned this when she gave me the jab - she said a lot of people swear that the flu jab gives them a dose of the flu because they come down with something immediately after having it - she said this is because the flu jab does weaken your immune system for a day or two so you're more likely to pick up a cold that's going round.

2. Your immune system is weaker when you are pregnant so even if you generally sail through winter without getting flu, the fact that you are pregnant makes you more likely to catch it. (my pregnant colleague caught a straightforward cough/cold that the whole office have had and were off a day, she was out with it for nearly a month which just highlighted to me how hard it is to fight things off when you are pregnant)

3. There's little you can take in the way of symptom relief so likely to be worse than experiencing flu when not pregnant.

4. swine flu attacks your respiratory system which is already compromised in pregnancy (read this on a mumsnet thread so can't back this up I'm afraid and my apologies if I have this wrong)

I can understand why people are averse to getting the flu jab because it feels like a risk - and best possible outcome is that you don't have the jab and neither do you get ill but because I commute into London every day on the train I just felt for me, the chances of catching anything going were pretty high. I have small lungs anyway and just think that a dose of the flu while pregnant would be horrendous. I've had flu once in the past when I've not been pregnant and it was completely debilitating.

Ultimately it's an individual decision but those are my reasons anyway!

maxmissie Thu 18-Nov-10 14:35:07

Tangle so sorry to hear about your little girl.

To OP, I've had the flu jab both times that I was pregnant and had no side effects to me or my babies other than I had a slightly sore arm for a day or so.

It's a difficult decision to make as has been said there are lots of arguments for both either side - I just went on the basis that the NHS are unlikely to be offering jabs to people, especially pregnant ladies, if there was a significant risk of danger to them and that I'd rather have the jab then end up with a nasty bout of flu, but I know that lots of people think the opposite.

Guess you have to weigh up the potential outcomes to you and your baby of having and not having the flu jab and then go with whichever is the least risky in your view.

lucielooo Thu 18-Nov-10 14:35:45

With regards to timing, the nurse did say that the best time to have it was the 2nd trimester but she didn't give any reasoning for that.

lucielooo Thu 18-Nov-10 14:37:11

coraltoes - I don't think it's just swine flu that's the issue - pregnant women have been given the seasonal flu jab for years - it's just that swine flu has been added to the seasonal jab this year.

thumbwitch Thu 18-Nov-10 14:43:51

this might be worth reading first

lucielooo Thu 18-Nov-10 14:47:24

isn't this from last year? i.e. because the vaccine was rushed last year they offered legal immunity to the vaccine makers.

This year they've had as long to work on the swine flu vaccine as they do every year for any strain of flu vaccine?

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Thu 18-Nov-10 14:52:28

There is no evidence that the vaccine harms the foetus, but there is evidence that influenza can.

Don't forget also that your immune system is weaker during pregnancy, so you are more likely to catch any bugs going around and if you do catch them, they can hit you harder.

Kitty81 Thu 18-Nov-10 14:55:03

I'm 19+5 and I've had hyperemesis since I was 5-6 weeks. This is my first baby. I had the combined flu jab at my GP clinic a couple of weeks ago, I have been so ill and in hops on a drip, I lost weight and thought my immune system was likely to be compromised. Dh is a teacher and so brings home all sorts of germs, I didn't want to risk flu or swine flu whilst my defences were so low. Also, my gp said there is emerging evidence that if you have the jab whilst pregnant, the new antibodies that your body produces can pass to the baby and so babies of vaccinated women can be less likely to get flu or swine flu once they are born. I have been very hesitant about any drugs since becoming pg, I am on an anti sickness now for they hypereemesis, which I was reluctant to do until my wonderful gp patiently explained to me that being so ill and undernourished could present a danger to my baby much more so than the very thoroughly tested tablets which are known to be safe.

I understand your reluctance; I think the hyperemesis has made me very very aware of what goes in (and comes out) of my body, but I wanted to protect me and my baby from flu. I had a sore arm for two days and felt very tired for the first day after, but hey, I've got hg, what's new, right?

That being said it is very much your choice. Do you have a good relationship with your gp or midwife? Could you talk it through with them? I probably wouldn't have had the jab through work, i felt much more comfortable at the clinic. Hope this helps you make the choice that is right for YOU, as it's a choice at the end of the day. Feel better

Kitty81 Thu 18-Nov-10 14:56:46

Sorry just re read the start of my post; I was not ill and in hops because of the jab. I was in hops with ketones and dehydration from the HG, I had the jab a couple of weeks after coming home from hops when I was feeling slightly better, at about 16 weeks i think. Sorry!

not12weeksyet Thu 18-Nov-10 15:20:41

sad Tangle I'm so sorry about your DD sad thankyou for sharing your story

Some very useful posts here thanks, it's really helpful to get different points of view

I think I'm going to decline the jab tomorrow as I'm still in the 1st trimester and work don't know yet, and I will discuss the option of having it at my GP surgery later at my midwife appointment next week.

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