Everyone should take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19 and flu complications, especially those at high risk. If you’re pregnant or you recently gave birth, staying current with your COVID-19 boosters and getting an annual flu shot are crucial — for both you and your baby.
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Vaccinations During Pregnancy FAQs
Getting vaccinated while pregnant or breastfeeding is a safe and effective way to protect both yourself and your newborn. Both flu and COVID vaccines are recommended during pregnancy. They’re safe to get at the same time, too.
Why should I get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu while pregnant?
During the winter, people tend to gather indoors. That makes it easier to spread respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and the flu. Both the COVID-19 boosters and flu shot help prevent severe illness if you do get sick.
“One of the best things that you can do to protect yourself and your baby is to get vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19,” said Christina Megli, MD, PhD, UPMC Magee-Womens Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine. These vaccines protect from complications and illness during and after pregnancy, she added.
“Pregnant persons who get COVID or the flu before delivery often are sicker and have poorer pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth or stillbirth,” said Dr. Megli.
“Vaccines prompt your body to develop antibodies that protect you from infection,” said Katherine Bunge, MD, MPH, UPMC Magee-Womens Division of Academic Obstetrics and Gynecology. Those antibodies are passed to your baby and protect the baby after birth.
“That is a huge benefit because babies aren’t born with strong immune systems,” said Dr. Bunge. “They’re working off of their mom’s immune system — and that’s stronger when mom is vaccinated.”
Healthy moms also keep their babies healthy. Getting a COVID-19 booster and the flu shot reduces the chance of you and your baby becoming sick.
During which trimester should I get vaccinated?
It is safe to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at any time during your pregnancy and while you’re breastfeeding. “And we know that getting vaccinated is effective in preventing severe disease and providing protection to the baby,” added Dr. Megli.
Flu season typically starts in October and can last until May. Both Dr. Megli and Dr. Bunge recommend getting a flu shot before flu season begins. You should also get the latest COVID-19 boosters whenever they’re available. And it’s never too late to get either shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began recommending the bivalent COVID-19 booster in September 2022. It noted that “getting a COVID-19 booster during pregnancy can help further protect babies against COVID-19.”
Do I have to get a flu shot and COVID-19 booster at the same time?
It’s up to you. “As long as you get them, it doesn’t matter if you space them apart or get them together,” said Dr. Bunge.
If you have any questions about the COVID-19 boosters, flu shots, or other vaccines recommended during pregnancy, talk to your doctor.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
About UPMC Magee-Womens
Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.
Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.