• Dr Peter Chew

Flu vaccination in pregnancy

I am 28 weeks pregnant. I am travelling to Hong Kong where there is a recent epidemic of flu. Is there any way to prevent the flu? Should I get the flu vaccination before I go?  Is it safe for the baby?  Any side effects?

A 'flu' is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and the lungs. It is spread through the air from coughs or sneezes and can cause severe lung infection(pneumonia) which can be life threatening.

The best way to prevent the flu is by getting yourself vaccinated. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (USA) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology recommend that all pregnant women should get a flu shot during the flu season, regardless of their trimester.

Besides preventing lung infection in the mother, flu vaccination also reduces the risks of miscarriage, premature birth and intrauterine growth restriction(IUGR).  It also helps protects your baby from the flu after birth.

The vaccine is made from an inactivated virus. It is safe for both mother and the foetus. It usually takes about 2 weeks to work.

The side effects are generally mild. Common side effects include:

Soreness, redness, and/or swelling at the injection site

Muscle aches





These side effects usually begin soon after the shot is given and generally last for 1-2 days.

Rarely, it can cause serious problems, like severe allergic reactions.

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