Influenza (Flu)

Influenza (flu) vaccination for pregnancy

The Australian Immunisation Handbook (10th edition) recommends that pregnant women have a flu vaccination (Fluvax) if they are going to be in their second or third trimester during the winter flu season. There is no evidence that unborn babies are at risk from inactive influenza vaccines. The benefit of vaccination is passed onto your child even before birth.

What is the 'flu' / influenza?

Flu, is short for influenza , which is a respiratory infection caused by a group of viruses that often cause severe respiratory distress. Typical symptoms of influenza include effects on the respiratory system like a sore throat, coughing but also effects on the whole body such as fever, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue. Although both are caused by viruses, influenza is distinguished from a cold in that the symptoms are more severe.

How are these viruses spread?

Influenza is transmitted when tiny droplets of moisture are spread from someone with the virus through coughing, sneezing or even talking. Once these droplets land in the respiratory tract of another they can quickly multiply leading to onset of viral symptoms usually within 2-3 days of infection.

Can you still catch the flu if you are vaccinated?

Yes and no. You are likely to have immunity to specific influenza viruses if you have been previously exposed to them or vaccinated against it. However, influenza is a family of viruses that are constantly evolving. You may have immunity to a range of viruses but not the latest version of the virus.

For more information see the World Health Organisation or the Better Health (Victorian Government) website.

Where can I get vaccinated against influenza?

To get vaccinated against influenza you should visit your general practitioner. You can ask your obstetrician or general practitioner about any specific questions you have about the vaccination.

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