Flu Season and COVID-19 | Is the Flu Shot Safe During Pregnancy?
With flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic occurring at the same time, it's more important than ever to safeguard your health. But when you're trying to conceive (TTC) or pregnant, you don't always know what is safe and what isn't.
Is the flu vaccine safe during pregnancy? What about if you're trying to conceive?
Here’s everything you need to know about the flu shot and family building.
The Flu Shot: Trying to Conceive and Pregnancy
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) continues to recommend that all women receive the influenza vaccine. ACOG maintains that the flu vaccine is particularly important for pregnant women as pregnancy brings about changes in your immune, heart, and lung functions that can increase the severity of flu-related illness.
Catching the flu also increases your chances for serious problems for your developing baby, including premature labor and delivery. Additionally, newborns and babies are among the most vulnerable to the ravages and complications of the influenza virus.
As a result, this vaccination has become an essential element of prenatal care.
If you get the flu shot during pregnancy, the vaccination provides newborns protection through placental antibody transfer. Maternal vaccination is the most effective strategy to protect newborns because the vaccine is not approved for use in infants younger than six months.
Get the flu shot if you are pregnant during flu season—it’s the best way to protect yourself and your baby for several months after birth from flu related complications.
Flu seasons vary in their timing from season to season, but CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October, if possible. This timing helps protect you before flu activity begins to increase.
Some complications of the flu, such as pneumonia, can even become life-threatening. This and other complications are a compelling argument as to why it’s especially important to obtain the flu vaccine if you are trying to conceive, if you are pregnant or are hoping to become pregnant.
Is it safe to try and conceive during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Flu and COVID-19: What Do We Know?
To be honest... not a whole lot. Because this is the first flu season we're entering with an already active (known) Coronavirus situation, there is not much data to look back on. For instance, we don't know if the flu makes you more susceptible to COVID-19, or vice versa.
So let's focus on what we do know...
You can have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
According to Johns Hopkins University, it is possible to carry both viruses concurrently. Having both together can impact the overall severity of how you are affected by the illnesses, as opposed to having one or the other singularly.
Flu and COVID-19 symptoms look a lot alike.
Especially because the intensity of the flu and COVID-19 varies so drastically from person to person, the illnesses can expose themselves similarly. If you start feeling flu-like symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately and assume a self-quarantine. Your doctor will likely conduct a flu or COVID-19 test to determine your exact illness.
Get a flu shot and practice social distancing.
If you are trying to conceive or are pregnant (and everyone else, for that matter), you should do both. Simple as that.
The flu is much more dangerous than a bad cold, though the symptoms are often the same, but not usually in the same order or with the same initial intensity. The flu comes on very abruptly as opposed to a cold which comes on gradually. Please note, a fever is atypical of a cold in most adults. Some symptoms of the flu may include:
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
A cold typically starts with a sore throat and stuffy nose and symptoms start to resolve themselves 3-5 days later. Flu symptoms last longer, often adding on to each other, and often get worse before they start to get better.
However, these look very similar to COVID-19 symptoms, as mentioned above. When feeling any of these symptoms, there is not a clear distinction between the two. Therefore, we highly recommend contacting your physician and possibly receiving a flu/COVID-19 test so you can better know your situation.
Ways to Avoid the Flu (and COVID-19) when Pregnant
Research shows that the single best way, when you’re trying to conceive or are pregnant, to avoid the flu is to get a flu shot.
In this age of COVID-19, there are many more ways to maintain a healthy body and mind.
One simple way to enhance the efficacy of the flu shot and prevent COVID transmission is consistent hand washing. That means soap, warm water, scrubbing each finger completely. How long should that take? According to the World Health Organization, singing “Happy Birthday” twice should do the trick, or 20 seconds.
Also, wearing your mask can not only help protect you, but it can keep those around you safe as well.
Our concerns for you extend past your fertility treatment cycle; they extend to you. Your health. Your needs. Your family. We want you to be as healthy as you can be as you build your healthy and happy family.
Is Pregnancy or TTC during COVID-19 stressing you out?
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.