Flu vaccine during pregnancy

If you are pregnant you should get the flu vaccine because you are at increased risk of severe complications from flu. The vaccine protects you during pregnancy.

You can get the flu vaccine at any stage of pregnancy. You should get it as early as possible in your pregnancy. If you are pregnant through two flu seasons, two vaccines, one in each season, are needed.

Impact of flu during pregnancy

Pregnant women are more likely to get complications due to changes in their heart and lung function. They are also more likely to be admitted to hospital and the Intensive Care Unit.

Getting flu in pregnancy may also lead to premature birth, lower birth weight and even stillbirth. There is evidence that the vaccine reduces the rate of stillbirth by over 50%.The flu vaccine will also help protect newborn baby during their first few months of life.

Vaccine safety

The flu vaccine has been given to millions of pregnant women. It has been given to pregnant women for almost 60 years in the US. Reactions are generally mild and serious side effects are very rare.

Protecting your baby during pregnancy

Getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy can protect your baby in the womb and for up to the first six months of life. It can prevent you getting flu and passing it on to your baby.

When to get the flu vaccine

If you are already pregnant the vaccine should be given in Autumn each year and is available from your family doctor or pharmacist. In the Northern Hemisphere the flu season lasts from early October to the end of April. Women who become pregnant at any stage during the flu season should get the flu vaccine.

If you are pregnant through two flu seasons, two flu vaccines, one in each season, are needed.

Side effects of the flu vaccine

The most common side effects are mild and include soreness, redness or swelling where the injection was given. Headache, fever, aches, drowsiness and tiredness may occur. You may have mild sweating and shivering as your immune system responds to the vaccine. This is not flu and will pass in a day or so.

Serious side effects such as a severe allergic reaction are rare.

In very rare cases Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) has been reported (Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a condition that affects the nerves in the body. It causes nerve inflammation and can result in pain, numbness, muscle weakness and difficulty walking). However, the risk of GBS following flu is significantly greater than that following the flu vaccine.

Can the flu vaccine be given at the same time other vaccines during pregnancy? 

Yes. You can have flu and other vaccines at the same time. The vaccines are usually given in different arms. Read more about vaccinations in pregnancy.

I was pregnant at the end of the last season and received seasonal flu vaccine then. I have not yet delivered my baby so should I receive seasonal flu vaccine now?

Yes. You should have the seasonal flu vaccine now to give you immunity from the flu strains expected this winter.

What should I do if I do not feel well after the flu vaccine?

Take paracetamol if you have a temperature after the flu vaccine. Paracetamol is safe during pregnancy and it is important for you and your baby to avoid fever.

Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen unless advised by your obstetrician.

If you are unwell after the vaccine it could be for some other reason. Don't assume it's due to the vaccine. Seek medical advice if needed.

Please make an appointment now to have the flu vaccine. Protect yourself and protect your baby. You should also talk to your GP about whooping cough vaccine. Both vaccines can be given on the same day.

More information

This page was updated on 20 August 2021
Pregnancy Flu Poster