As the air becomes crisper and the days become shorter, influenza (“flu”) season is entering its peak. During the fall and winter months, pregnant people, infants, and children under the age of 5 years or with special health care needs are among the most vulnerable to getting seriously ill. Preventing influenza is easier than treating it.
Why Get Vaccinated Against Influenza?
Flu can be a serious illness. Every year the flu causes millions of people to be ill, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.
- Getting a flu vaccine is the first and most important action in reducing your risk of flu and its serious outcomes. Flu vaccine can keep you and your child from getting very sick from flu and lower your chances of serious illness, complications, and hospitalization.
- Pregnant people are at high risk for flu complications. Flu vaccine during pregnancy can help protect pregnant people AND their baby from complications, such as
- preterm birth
- low birth weight
- Babies younger than 6 months old have the highest rates of hospitalization and death but are unable to get a flu vaccine because they are too young. Giving flu vaccines to everyone in contact with these young babies helps protect the babies.
- Certain children and adults have a higher risk of hospitalization for flu complications. It is especially important that these high risk people get a flu vaccine every year:
- Children under 5 years of age, especially those under 2 years old.
- Children and adults that have chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease
- People 65 years of age and older.
Everyone six months of age and older should receive the flu vaccine every year.
For more information on flu in pregnant people:
For more information on children with higher risk for flu complications:
For more information on flu in infants and young children:
Are flu vaccines safe for pregnant people, their developing babies, and children?
- YES! Flu vaccines are safe. They have been studied extensively in hundreds of millions of Americans over more than 50 years and have an excellent safety record.
- The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women and their babies. Safety of flu vaccines for pregnant people and their babies is supported by several large studies.
- Getting a flu shot while pregnant does NOT increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that people who are or will be pregnant during influenza season receive a flu shot
- There is no need to get special permission or written consent from your doctor to get vaccinated against flu at a worksite clinic, pharmacy, or other location outside of your doctor’s office
- Getting a flu shot while pregnant protects mom and the baby. It is the most important action a person can take to protect against flu and its complications.
- For more information, see the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Flu Vaccine Safety and Pregnancy English | Spanish
- What about if someone has an egg allergy?
- People with egg allergy, even with severe egg allergy, may get ANY flu vaccine that is otherwise appropriate for their age and health status.
- No additional safety measures are needed beyond those recommended for receipt of any vaccine.
- For more information, see CDC’s Flu Vaccine Safety Information English | Spanish
What Everyday Steps Can I Take to Help Protect Against the Flu?
The flu is spread from person to person when an infected person coughs, talks or sneezes. In addition to getting a yearly flu vaccine, you (and your family) should:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Wearing a mask around others if you are sick (and over age 2 years) can help protect others.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Keep their distance from people who are sick.
- Stay home if sick. Sharing is not caring when it comes to the flu.
- For flu, the CDC recommends that people stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone (except to get medical care or other necessities), without using fever-reducing medicine.
- Breastfeed your baby if you are able to.
- Breastfeeding baby is a great way to help protect your baby! Breastmilk has antibodies and other substances in it that can help protect your baby from the flu and other infections.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces in the home often.
To learn more about proper handwashing:
To learn more about flu vaccines for children:
To learn about flu vaccines during pregnancy:
Where Can I Find a Flu Vaccine?
- Ask your healthcare provider.
- Go to a pharmacy.
- If you’re uninsured or don’t have a doctor, visit: Orange County Health Care Agency: Easy Ways to Get a Flu Shot English | Spanish | Chinese | Arabic |Vietnamese | Korean | Farsi
If you don’t have a provider, call the Health Referral Line (1-800-564-8448) or see http://www.coccc.org for information about free or low cost medical services in Orange County.