Pregnant? Here's why you need the flu jab

pregnant woman getting injection vaccine

Flu is a nasty illness. Unlike a cold, where symptoms build up gradually, flu symptoms come on rapidly and intensely in the form of a fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain and fatigue.

Flu will render even the most healthy people so exhausted and unwell that they have to stay in bed and rest until they feel better. But for the more vulnerable - including small children, the elderly and those with long term health conditions - it can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. This applies to pregnant women, too.

Why it's important to get vaccinated against flu during pregnancy

Pregnancy naturally weakens the body's immune system, leaving expectant mothers less able to fight off infections - all of which increases the risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of flu.

If you're pregnant during the autumn and winter months, when the flu season falls, the most effective way of protecting yourself and your baby is to be vaccinated against it. The vaccination's available free of charge on the NHS, and it's not just you who will benefit from it; babies born to mothers who have had the flu jab are also protected from flu for the first couple of months of life.

The flu vaccine is completely safe during all stages of pregnancy, but it's best to have it as soon as possible to ensure you're protected throughout flu season. Speak to your midwife or GP about booking an appointment to get the jab.

Flu vaccine: the facts

  • You are not protected if you had the flu vaccine last year or prior to that; to be protected you must have the vaccine each year
  • You cannot catch flu from receiving the vaccination. You might have a sore arm, and perhaps some cold-like symptoms after having it
  • It is never too late to get the flu jab. You might have very recently become pregnant in the middle of the flu season - you should still be vaccinated for optimum protection
  • Antibiotics do not work against the flu because it is a virus; antibiotics only fight against bacterial infections
  • While helpful in protecting cells, vitamin C does not protect against the flu - and that especially includes pregnant women

For more information about getting the flu vaccine this winter, visit NHS Stay Well.


This content has been provided by Professor Dame Sally C Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, and the Department of Health

Last updated: about 2 months ago