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Can I get a flu shot if I'm breastfeeding?


Updated April 21, 2009

Can I get a flu shot if I'm breastfeeding?
Question: Can I get a flu shot if I'm breastfeeding?

Yes! You can (and should!) get a flu shot when you're breastfeeding. It is perfectly safe for you and your baby. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices states,

"Influenza vaccine does not affect the safety of Mothers who are breastfeeding or their infants. Breastfeeding does not adversely affect the immune response and is not a contraindication for vaccination."

There are two versions of the flu vaccine:

  • Injectable, otherwise known as the "shot." This is an inactivated vaccine. This means that it is a killed virus. You cannot get sick from getting a flu shot.
  • Intranasal, or Flu-Mist nasal spray. This is a live, but weakened vaccine. It is approved for use in healthy people (indicating those who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications) from 2 to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.

It is uncommon for Mother's to pass the Flu-Mist virus on to her baby. The CDC states,

"In clinical studies, transmission of vaccine viruses to close contacts has occurred only rarely. The current estimated risk of getting infected with vaccine virus after close contact with a person vaccinated with the nasal-spray flu vaccine is low (0.6%-2.4%). Because the viruses are weakened, infection is unlikely to result in influenza illness symptoms since the vaccine viruses have not been shown to mutate into typical or naturally occurring influenza viruses."

However, even with a small chance of transmitting the vaccine virus, the shot (or inactivated virus) is recommended for any woman who has a newborn.

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