Is it safe to get a flu shot if I’m trying to get pregnant?

Is It Safe to Get a Flu Shot If I’m Trying to Get Pregnant?

Preconception care involves taking steps to optimize your health even before conception occurs. This includes getting recommended immunizations, like the annual flu shot. But if you’re actively trying to get pregnant, is it safe to get vaccinated against influenza? Let’s explore the facts.

Why Flu Shots Matter Preconception

Here are some key reasons getting your flu shot matters when trying to conceive:

  • Protects future pregnancy – Flu viruses and high fevers pose health risks during pregnancy for both mother and developing fetus. Vaccination provides antibodies that get passed to your baby.
  • Avoids medication risks – Getting the flu often requires taking antiviral drugs and other symptom relief medications. Preventing flu avoids these drug risks preconception.
  • Reduces fever and inflammation – Flu infections come with high fevers and body aches. Both fever and inflammation can temporarily impact ovulation, sperm health parameters and conception odds per cycle.
  • Limits illness duration – Being sick with the flu around conception time means missed work and lost chances to have intercourse during your fertile window for that cycle. Vaccination reduces flu duration.
  • You may already be pregnant – Sperm can survive up to 5 days inside the female reproductive tract. Getting vaccinated after ovulation helps protect you if conception occurred but pregnancy tests are still negative.

For these reasons, getting a yearly flu shot is highly recommended for all women planning to become pregnant, ideally even before actively trying. Talk to your doctor about the best timing.

Is the Flu Vaccine Safe Preconception?

Yes, leading health organizations like the CDC, ACOG, and SMFM confirm that inactivated flu vaccines are safe before and during pregnancy.

Here’s what safety data shows about common flu shot formulations:

  • No increased miscarriage risk. Studies show flu vaccines do NOT increase risk of first trimester pregnancy loss compared to unvaccinated women.
  • No impact on fetal development. Flu shots have NOT been associated with increased risk of congenital disabilities nor pregnancy complications.
  • No effect on fertility. Influenza vaccines DO NOT reduce female or male fertility nor hinder conception. They will not interfere with getting pregnant.

Some people may experience brief low grade fever, body aches or injection site soreness after getting their flu shot. This is normal and not dangerous for fertility or pregnancy.

Are There Any Special Considerations?

Some extra tips for getting flu shots preconception:

  • Opt for the inactivated injectable vaccine when available over the live attenuated nasal spray version. Inactivated vaccines are generally recommended for those pregnant or trying.
  • Get the shot in your upper arm instead of near the deltoid. This avoids any hypothetical risk of fever in proximity to developing eggs, however unlikely.
  • Stay well hydrated after your vaccination and take Tylenol as needed for side effects.
  • Get the shot early in your cycle right after your period ends to avoid theoretical interference with an undetected pregnancy.
  • Tell the pharmacist you are trying to conceive when getting your flu shot.

With these minor precautions, you can safely get the flu vaccine any time preconception. Just avoid getting it when you are already pregnant if possible. Discuss with your doctor if you have any other concerns.

Benefits Outweigh Any Unproven Risks

While any medication or vaccine carries a hypothetical risk, rest assured that leading experts globally agree the proven benefits of flu shots for mom and baby far outweigh any potential downsides.

You are much more likely to experience health complications from catching the actual flu compared to the vaccine. All signs point to flu shots being vital protection for healthy pregnancies.

Can Your Partner Also Get Vaccinated?

Absolutely – flu shots are recommended for the prospective father as well. Influenza viruses and fever negatively impact sperm quality and quantity for up to 5 months.

Plus, getting vaccinated helps prevent transmitting flu infections to the mother during pregnancy. Have any individuals around the mother or newborn get their annual flu shot to create a “cocoon of protection”.

The Takeaway

Don’t put off or skip your annual flu shot when trying to get pregnant. Vaccination is an essential part of safe preconception planning and early pregnancy protection. Talk to your OBGYN or primary care doctor about the optimal influenza vaccine timing for you.

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