Vaccines protect moms pregnant during flu season

The two big shots you'll want to check off this season your COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine.

Pregnant moms are at increased risk for severe illness from respiratory viruses like flu and COVID-19.

Cleveland Clinic OB/GYN Dr. Tosin Goje said that’s because a woman’s immune system weakens during pregnancy, making vaccines especially important.

“If she cannot fight normal infections that she could fight when she was not pregnant, then she needs some preventive measures and vaccines are the key,” explained Goje.

Data shows pregnant women with COVID-19 or the flu may face an increased risk of pre-term birth and pregnant loss, in addition to severe illness and hospitalization.

Goje said the best way to protect a mom-to-be from complications from the flu or COVID-19 is to be vaccinated. She said both vaccines are recommended during pregnancy.

Over the years, the flu shot has been given to millions of women safely. And, while the COVID-19 vaccine is still relatively new, nearly 180,000 pregnant women have received it. Vaccination information collected by the CDC hasn’t identified any safety concerns for pregnant women or their babies.

“Viral infections and respiratory infections can be devastating in pregnancy and we have what it takes in this country to prevent it, so why don’t we prevent them?” said Goje. “We have the flu vaccine. We have the COVID vaccine. We have preventative measures like hand hygiene, safe measures. Let’s take all that we have in our tool box and prevent these infections.”

Not only does a flu shot protect an expecting mom, it also protect her newborn. Goje said flu vaccine antibodies are passed through breastmilk and offer a baby protection.

COVID-19 vaccine antibodies have also been found in breastmilk, and doctors suspect it, too, offers an infant some protection.