Home » Influenza vaccine for pregnant women - advantages and disadvantages

Influenza vaccine for pregnant women - advantages and disadvantages

Influensa vaccine for pregnant women

Influenza vaccine for pregnant women is offered to everyone in Sweden. Read about why and about the advantages and disadvantages of vaccination against influenza during pregnancy.

Read more about flu vaccine for children here. 

Pregnant women are at increased risk of severe influensa

The reason why flu vaccine is recommended for pregnant women is that pregnant women are at increased risk of severe influensa compared to non-pregnant women. This risk is particularly high for some types of virus, such as the swine flu (AH1H1). This type of influensa is spread to a greater or lesser extent each year.

Pregnant women are more at risk than their non-pregnant peers to be hospitalised for the flu and to be in intensive care for the flu.


Influensa vaccine is safe for the fetus

Influensa vaccine is safe for the fetus or the expectant child. There is no increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight fetal death or malformations. Some studies suggest a reduced risk of both late miscarriage and fetal death and premature birth in vaccinated compared to unvaccinated.

A protective effect of the flu vaccine for the fetus may be due to the fact that the flu disease itself (especially severe flu that requires hospital care) can be detrimental to the development of the fetus. If the pregnant person is protected against the flu, the fetus is also protected. Alternatively, there may be something else within the pregnant women who choose vaccination that differentiates them from pregnant women who choose no vaccination. Maybe vaccinated pregnant people smoke less? In that case, it may be the factor (the so-called confounding factor) that explains that vaccinated pregnant women tend to have slightly healthier pregnancies.

Why only give the flu vaccine after week 16?

It is mainly during the third trimester that the increased risks of influensa have been seen for the mother. Then you want to wait until the risk of miscarriage is reduced and a routine ultrasound is made. Surely you know that more than 10% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage before week 12? If we were to vaccinate all pregnant women between weeks 6 and 12, more than 10,000 pregnant women would suffer a miscarriage every year in connection with the vaccination and many, many would surely wonder if it had anything to do with the vaccination. Many people would suffer the miscarriage the same day as the vaccination. However, we certainly know that the vaccine itself does not increase the risk of miscarriage based on the experience of vaccinated pregnant women.

Some fetuses have malformations, and this is detected in routine ultrasound in many cases. In order not to become uncertain about whether the malformations are caused by the vaccine, one would like to vaccinate after the ultrasound. However, many pregnant women in the world are vaccinated in the first trimester with the flu vaccine, and no increased risk of birth defects has been seen in them.

However, pregnant women who also have other risk factors for severe influensa (such as chronic heart and lung diseases, diabetes, etc.) are advised to take the vaccine as soon as the programme starts. This is because the benefits of vaccination are so great for that group that they would like to be protected throughout the flu season.

It also means that you who want to vaccinate early in the season, whether you are in week 14 or week 7, can absolutely do it.

Influensa vaccination of pregnant women can protect the newborn baby from influensa

Because the mother is vaccinated against the flu, she will protect her newborn baby from infection in two ways. In part, she herself will be less likely to become ill when the baby is born. Thus, she will not be a risk of infection to the child.

First, vaccination towards the end of pregnancy will result in increased levels of antibodies in the mother during the last trimester. Antibodies that are transmitted to the child via the placenta and give the child an innate protection against influenza during the first months of life (then the antibodies are destroyed and the child must stand for their own protection).

Read more about influensa in children here. 

Disadvantages of influensa vaccination of pregnant women

The disadvantages of influensa vaccination are partly that the vaccines are not 100% effective, far from it. You can thus get sick even if you have received a vaccine. The side effects are generally mild, redness and pain at the stinging site and slight fever for a few days.

Should you take more vaccinations when pregnant?

In Sweden there are no official recommendations for other vaccines for pregnant women. In more and more countries, however, pregnant women have been vaccinated against whooping cough. It is safe and effective to protect the newborns from whooping cough before they have received a vaccine themselves. If you want to take a replenishment dose of whooping cough vaccine while pregnant in Sweden, you have to pay for it yourself and go to a vaccination agency. The refill dose also contains diphtheria and tetanus vaccine.

Read more about whooping cough in infants here. 

Read more:

Influensa in children - symptoms and treatment

Influensa vaccine for children - side effects and for whom?

Whooping cough - symptoms, how it sounds, vaccines, tests and treatment

Guide for prospective parents - pregnancy facts and child insights from a scientific background

To vaccinate or not? About infant immunisation.

How does a vaccine work? So the vaccine strengthens the immune system

What does vaccine contain? Is there aluminum, formaldehyde or mercury in vaccines?

Public Health Authority overview of vaccination of pregnant women with influenza

9 thoughts on “Influensavaccin till gravid – fördelar och nackdelar”

  1. I am pregnant at week 34 and think I had the flu a few weeks ago, just before the seasonal vaccination started. I was in the emergency room after three days of fever and got Tamiflu and then got better after a couple of days.
    Is it still meaningful to vaccinate me? Thinking above all that it is not entirely certain that I had just the flu (although I do not know what it would have been otherwise, had fever and muscle pain but no other cold symptoms). I also think it can provide extra protection for the baby, which is estimated at the end of January, if I vaccinate.

    ps. What fun that the blog is alive again!

    1. Hey! Yes, I think that makes sense. As you write, you may not have the flu, and the vaccine also protects against more strains than you (might) have.

  2. How should you do if you are pregnant early now when the vaccinations start? Do not want to vaccinate me before v.12, and v 12 I do not pass until after the turn of the year. Preferably, I do not want to vaccinate before RUL, which will be in the middle of February ... is it even any idea to vaccinate themselves then? When does the flu season end?
    I work from home so I myself do not meet so many people and do not travel as much public transport, however, co-workers can pull home bacilli because he meets many people at work. Should he also vaccinate to reduce the risk of me and baby getting ill?

    1. The recommendation is that anyone who is pregnant after v 16 or after normal routine ulcers vaccinate during the period of influenza vaccination (until February ??? Anyone know?).

      Close relatives of people at risk (eg spouses of pregnant women) can easily vaccinate, but may then pay for themselves (SEK 200).

  3. Thanks! Have wanted a post like this. Most of the post I have read from the National Board of Health and Welfare and other recommendations. It would have been incredibly interesting to hear personal thoughts about the vaccination fears surrounding this type of seasonal flu vaccine.

  4. If I interpret it correctly, should one be able to vaccinate even if it is an early pregnancy? Anyone who is in the first few months will guess that they will now be vaccinated as the flu is coming soon.

    1. You can, but the general recommendation is to wait for the above reasons. I vaccinated myself against flu pregnancy iv 6-7 because I was convinced then that flu disease was a much greater threat to my expectant child than vaccine. Even in early pregnancy. And so I worked at Barnakuten as well ...

    2. I vaccinated myself yesterday v5 on the recommendation of the health center. Am a little worried now if I vaccinated myself too soon? And what can happen?

    3. No danger. This is mostly because, regardless of vaccination, there is a high risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy that you think it is best to wait until it is over so that no one has to wonder if they got miscarriage due to the vaccination. However, vaccination does not increase the risk of miscarriage. And because the flu disease is only normal for a pregnant woman in early pregnancy, first in the second trimester it becomes extremely dangerous.

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