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The flu jab in pregnancy

It's recommended that all pregnant women have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they're at. It's free for pregnant women.

Why are pregnant women advised to have the flu vaccine?

A 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.

Pregnancy changes how the body responds to infections such as flu. Having flu increases the chances of pregnant women and their babies needing intensive care.

One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia.

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 a flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date.

Women who have had a 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 a flu vaccine if they're eligible (for example, because of a long-term health condition).

When should I have the flu jab?

The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating.

If you've missed this time, you can be vaccinated later in the winter although it's better 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?

To get a flu vaccine you can:

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 strains the vaccines are designed to prevent this year may be different from last year. The protection from a flu vaccine also goes down with time.

If you had the flu vaccine during the last flu season because you were pregnant (same pregnancy or a previous pregnancy), or because you're in a vulnerable group, you need to have it again this year.

Will the flu jab give me flu?

No. Injected flu vaccines do not contain any live viruses, and cannot cause flu. Some people get a slightly raised temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, and you may feel sore at the injection site.

Can I have the flu jab at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine?

Yes, you can have a flu vaccine 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 a 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.

More information

Page last reviewed: 5 September 2022
Next review due: 5 September 2025