The flu jab in pregnancy
It's recommended that all pregnant women have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they're at.
Why are pregnant women advised to have the flu vaccine?
The flu jab will help protect both you and your baby.
There is good evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
If you have flu while you're pregnant, it could mean your baby is born prematurely or has a low birthweight, and may even lead to stillbirth or death.
Is the flu vaccine safe in pregnancy?
Yes. Studies have shown that it's safe to have the flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date.
Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.
It's safe for women who are breastfeeding to have the vaccine.
When should I have the flu jab?
The flu vaccine is normally available from September until around January or February each year. It's free for pregnant women.
If you're eligible for the vaccine, try to have it as soon as possible so you are protected by the time the flu viruses are circulating in the winter.
Don't worry if you find that you're pregnant later on in the flu season – you can have the vaccine then if you haven't already had it.
How do I get the flu vaccine?
Contact your midwife or GP to find out where you can get the flu vaccine. It's a good idea to get vaccinated as soon as possible after the vaccine becomes available in September.
In some areas, midwives can give a flu vaccine at the antenatal clinic. In others, you will need an appointment at a GP practice.
Some community pharmacies now offer flu vaccination on the NHS.
If I had the flu jab last year, do I need to have it again now?
Yes, because the viruses that cause flu change every year. This means the flu (and the vaccine) this year may be different from last year.
If you had the flu vaccine last year, either because you were pregnant or because you're in a vulnerable group, you need to have it again this year.
Read more about how the flu vaccine works.
Will the flu jab give me flu?
No. The vaccine doesn't contain any live viruses, so it can't cause flu. Some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, and you may feel a bit sore at the injection site.
Read more about flu vaccine side effects.
Can I have the flu jab at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine?
Yes, you can have the flu jab at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine, but don't delay your flu jab simply so you can have both at the same time.
Pregnant women are at risk of severe illness from flu at any stage of pregnancy, so you really need to have the flu vaccine as soon as possible.
The best time to get vaccinated against whooping cough is from 16 weeks up to 32 weeks of pregnancy.
If you miss having the vaccine for any reason, you can still have it up until you go into labour.
Find out more about the whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy.
I'm pregnant and think I have flu. What should I do?
Talk to your doctor as soon as possible. If you do have flu, there's a prescribed medicine you can take that might help, or reduce your risk of complications, but it needs to be taken very soon after symptoms appear.
Read more about pregnancy and the flu and whooping cough vaccines.
Page last reviewed: 25 August 2016
Next review due: 31 August 2019