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 cause your baby to be born prematurely or have 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 best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to the end of November. If you've missed this time, you can have the flu vaccine later in the winter although it's best to get it earlier.
Do not worry if you find that you're pregnant later in the flu season – you can have the vaccine then if you have not already had it.
How do I get the flu vaccine?
Contact your midwife or GP surgery 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 the flu vaccine at the antenatal clinic. In others, you will need an appointment at a GP surgery.
Some community pharmacies now offer the flu vaccine 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.
Find out more about how the flu vaccine works
Will the flu jab give me flu?
No. The vaccine does not contain any live viruses, so it cannot cause flu. Some people get a higher temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, and you may feel sore at the injection site.
Find out 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 do not delay your flu jab 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 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 a GP 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.
Find out more about vaccines to protect you and your baby during pregnancy
Page last reviewed: 10 September 2019
Next review due: 10 September 2022