Every flu season, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) gets questions from pregnant workers about the flu and flu vaccines. Here are the answers to some of your most frequently asked questions, including getting the flu shot at work and administering flu shots to patients.
Can I get a flu shot if I’m pregnant?
Yes. CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all women who are or will be pregnant during influenza season get the flu shot.1,2 The flu shot can be given at any time during pregnancy, before or during flu season.3 Millions of pregnant women have received the flu shot to protect themselves and their developing baby.4
There are several different flu vaccines available. Pregnant women can get any of the licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate flu shots, including IIV (inactivated influenza vaccine) and RIV4 (recombinant influenza vaccine).3 However, pregnant women should not get the nasal flu spray vaccine (also called Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine or LAIV4).3
Why should I get the flu shot?
If you get sick with the flu during pregnancy, you can develop severe illness that puts your life— and your pregnancy— in danger. Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from getting the flu.4
Your flu shot also protects your newborn baby for the first several months after their birth. Babies have to wait until they are 6 months old before getting their own flu shot. If you get the flu shot in pregnancy, the antibodies that your body produces in response to the flu shot will be passed on to your baby through the placenta—and if you’re breastfeeding, through your breast milk—protecting your newborn from the flu.4,5
Getting a flu shot can help prevent you from spreading the flu to your family, your friends, and the people you work with. Getting a flu shot is especially important if you work with people at high risk for flu complications, like: people 65 years or older; children younger than 5 years; and people who have chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease.6
My workplace offers the flu shot. Can I get the flu shot at work if I’m pregnant?
Yes, you can get your flu shot at work. You do not need permission from your obstetrician-gynecologist or prenatal provider before getting the flu shot.7You can get the flu shot anywhere it is offered, such as at a pharmacy, a store, or your healthcare provider’s office.7
I’m a pregnant healthcare worker. Can I administer the flu vaccine to my patients?
Yes. Pregnant healthcare workers can administer both the flu shot and the nasal flu spray vaccine to their patients.8
The nasal flu vaccine contains a weakened version of the flu virus. When administering the nasal flu vaccine, small amounts of the weakened flu virus may be released into the air. Because the risk from catching the flu after administering the nasal flu spray vaccine is small and the vaccine virus is unlikely to cause symptomatic flu, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices says that pregnant healthcare workers may administer the nasal flu spray vaccine to patients.8
Flu season is also a great time of year for you and your co-workers to review your work routines and make sure that all employees are following best practices, including steps to prevent needlestick injuries.
I got my flu shot. What else can I do to stay healthy this flu season?
Even after getting the flu shot, it is important to continue everyday preventive actions to keep the flu and other infectious diseases from spreading:4,9
- Cover your coughs to avoid spreading the flu.
- Wash your hands often—especially before eating, drinking, or touching your face. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer until you have a chance to wash your hands with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you have flu virus on your hands, the virus can enter your body and infect you when you touch these areas.
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.
Where can I get more information?
The CDC website has more information about getting the flu shot in pregnancy.
You can see recommendations for getting the flu vaccine in pregnancy fromthe American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,the American Academy of Family Physicians, andthe Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
For more information on how to protect yourself from workplace exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, visit theNIOSH Reproductive Health and the Workplace webpage.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG committee opinion no. 732: influenza vaccination during pregnancy.Obstet Gynecol2018;131(4):e109-e114.https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Influenza-Vaccination-During-Pregnancy
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG committee opinion no. 741: maternal immunization.Obstet Gynecol2018;131(6):e214-e217.https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Immunization-Infectious-Disease-and-Public-Health-Preparedness-Expert-Work-Group/Maternal-Immunization
- Grohskopf LA, Alyanak E, Broder KR, Walter EB, Fry AM, Jernigan DB. Prevention and control of seasonal influenza with vaccines: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices – United States, 2019-20 influenza season.MMWR Recomm Rep2019;68(3):1-21.https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/rr/rr6803a1.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pregnant women & influenza (flu).https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/pregnant.htm.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breastfeeding: influenza (flu).https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/maternal-or-infant-illnesses/influenza.html.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza vaccination information for healthcare workers.https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/healthcareworkers.htm.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu vaccine safety and pregnancy.https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/qa_vacpregnant.htm.
- Fiore AE, Uyeki TM, Broder K, Finelli L, Euler GL, Singleton JA, Iskander JK, Wortley PM, Shay DK, Bresee JS, Cox NJ, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevention and control of influenza with vaccines: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2010.MMWR Recomm Rep2010;59(RR-8):1-62.https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5908a1.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy habits to help prevent flu.https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm.