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Is it safe to get the flu vaccination during IVF and when I’m pregnant?

Genea blog flu vaccinationDoing your research and questioning what you put into your body during fertility treatment and once you’re pregnant is perfectly reasonable, but we can put your mind at ease with respect to this question.

What is flu and what risk does it pose?

Flu or influenza is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It is responsible for major outbreaks of respiratory illness around the world, usually in the winter months. Unlike the common cold, influenza can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

It is mainly spread from person to person through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes or through touching.

Who’s at risk?

Pregnant women in their second and third trimester are at greater risk of severe illness from flu as their immunity is naturally lower than usual. If a pregnant woman catches a bad strain of flu, it can lead to premature labour, and in some extreme cases, death. These risks are heightened if you have other underlying medical conditions.

Flu is especially dangerous for elderly people and very young children. Babies are at higher risk of more severe influenza which can develop into lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia. In fact, infants less than six months of age are up to 10 times more likely to go to hospital with influenza than older children.

It is estimated that each year, flu contributes to an average of 13,500 hospitalisations and more than 3,000 deaths among Australians aged over 50 years.

Is it safe for me to get the flu shot if I am having IVF, in the 2WW or pregnant?

The straight answer is Yes.

The flu vaccine can be given safely to women planning to have a baby or at any stage of pregnancy. Immunising against flu has been shown to benefit both mother and baby as protective antibodies are transferred across the placenta, giving the baby protection for up to six months after birth.

There is extensive experience of safe use of the influenza vaccine in women trying to conceive and in pregnant women. There is no evidence of harmful effects on the baby.1

Because there are different flu strains that emerge, each year scientists develop a vaccine against influenza (seasonal influenza vaccine). In young, healthy adults, influenza vaccine is approximately 80 per cent effective in preventing influenza infection. Up to one in 10 adults who receive the vaccine experience side effects such as tiredness, muscle aches and a low grade fever. Redness and swelling at the site of the injection is also common.

What else can I do to reduce my chances of getting flu?

Good general hygiene can also help you avoid contracting the flu:
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, use disposable tissues and throw them away immediately after use;
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Keep away from people you know are sick with influenza; and
  • Avoid crowded places where there may be other people sick with flu.
To find out more about getting your flu vaccination please speak to your GP.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is a Genea Group blog and as such information may not be relevant for all clinics. We advise that you consult clinics directly for further information.
1 Adverse events following administration to pregnant women of influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccine reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Nov 2011).