safeBABY

Making healthy babies and keeping them healthy, happy … and safe.

Flu shot during pregnancy?

Posted by NonToxic House on November 12, 2008

Flu season is just about to pounce. And if you’re pregnant it’s something you’re likely concerned about. But I’m still on the fence about a flu shot.

My workplace is offering them free. My doctor also recommends one. He says a pregnant woman’s immune system is compromised during pregnancy. And other reputable sources agree with him.

Here’s what MayoClinic.com has to say:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flu shots for all women who will be pregnant during influenza season. In North America, peak flu season is usually November to March. Because the flu shot is made from killed (inactivated) influenza virus, it is considered safe during any stage of pregnancy. However, pregnant women should not use the nasal-spray flu vaccine, which is made with live, weakened influenza virus.

Pregnancy can affect your immune system and also put extra stress on your heart and lungs. As a result, you may be at increased risk of not only getting the flu but of developing serious complications of the flu, including pneumonia. In addition, pregnant women with the flu are far more likely to require hospitalization for flu complications than are women with the flu who aren’t pregnant.

And here’s a study that says a flu shot during pregnancy helps protect mom but ALSO helps protect baby from the flu during the first six months of life.

But my concern is mainly over the mercury in the vaccine. 

The majority of flu shots distributed in the United States contain a mercury-based preservative called Thimerosol. The CDC maintains that thimerosol is safe. Click here for a detailed Q&A to get their perspective. 

But here’s a great hard-hitting report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (last year) that describes the concern of many parenting groups and health care activists. The Journal Sentinel explains:

A typical 0.5 milliliter flu shot contains 25 micrograms – or 50,000 parts per billion – of mercury. The EPA classifies a liquid with 200 parts per billion of mercury as hazardous waste. The limit for drinking water is 2 parts per billion.

So we’re being told that’s it’s ok to get a flu shot with 50,000 parts per billion of mercury, when the EPA says 200 parts per billion is hazardous waste

One important note: it seems that pharmaceutical companies are trying to find a compromise and they are putting out flu vaccines touted as being “preservative-free” or “thimerosol-free”. But you need to take a closer look. According to the CDC, flu vaccines labeled preservative free may not actually be:

Some contain only trace amounts of thimerosal and are considered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be preservative-free. Manufacturers of preservative-free flu vaccine use thimerosal early in the manufacturing process. The thimerosal gets diluted as the vaccine goes through the steps in processing. By the end of the manufacturing process there is not enough thimerosal left in the vaccine to act as a preservative and the vaccine is labeled “preservative-free”. 

I’m thinking I’m going to go without the vaccine during my pregnancy. But consult with your doc and make your decision. If you’re leaning toward getting a shot, you might want to go for the ones that only include trace amounts of thimerosol. This page from the CDC has details on this year’s flu vaccine supply; it includes a chart of all the major vaccines and whether they include trace or full amounts of thimerosol.

In the meantime, practice good health habits to avoid the nasty bug in the first place. SB

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2 Responses to “Flu shot during pregnancy?”

  1. MePregnant said

    Flu shot during pregnancy?…

    Because the flu shot is made from killed (inactivated) influenza virus, it is considered safe during any stage of pregnancy. However, pregnant women should not use the nasal-spray flu vaccine, which is made with live, weakened influenza ……

  2. […] Flu shot during pregnancy? « safeBABY […]

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