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Influenza Fact Sheet for Pregnant Women

What is Influenza?

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory disease that is not the same as the “stomach flu.” Flu is caused by a virus that attaches to the nose, throat and lungs. Getting the flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. When you are pregnant, changes in your immune system, heart and lungs make you more prone to severe illness from flu, including hospitalizations or even death. If you have chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes, your risk of complications is even higher. Pregnant women who get sick from the flu may also have a greater chance of severe problems for their unborn baby, including premature labor or delivery.

What should you do if you are pregnant and have flu symptoms?

Since the flu is highly contagious, it is important to stay home and avoid exposing others to illness. If you get sick with flu-like symptoms (even if you have already had a flu shot), call the clinic right away and ask to speak with one of our triage nurses. Our triage team, in collaboration with our group of providers, will determine your risk level and, if appropriate, prescribe an antiviral medication that can significantly reduce the duration of illness.  A fever can be brought down with over-the-counter acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol).

What are the signs and symptoms of flu

Signs and symptoms of flu typically include fever greater or equal to 100 degrees F and abrupt, severe onset of one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny rose
  • Headaches or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

Can you get a flu shot when you are pregnant?

Yes! It is especially important for you to get a flu shot if you are pregnant or newly postpartum. Getting a flu shot will help protect you and your unborn baby. It even protects your baby up to 6 months after birth, while he or she is too young to get their own flu vaccine.

*Getting a flu shot is the most important step in protecting pregnant women and babies against the flu*

What else can you do to protect yourself and others?

  • Get a flu shot annually
  • Avoid contact with others who are sick and avoid exposing others if you think you may be sick
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze with either a tissue or your sleeve
  • Avoid sharing drinking cups and straws
southdale providers standing in a V with bandaids on their upper arms as flu flighters
Listed left to right: Leslie Newman, DNP, Dr. Almdahl, Dr. Swigert, Amber and Sirless


Reference: Minnesota Department of Health