Should You Get a Flu Shot While Pregnant in Dubai
Do you need to take a flu vaccination while pregnant? Here's what you need to know
16 October 2019
Ease your mind by protecting yourself and your little one during flu season...
If you're a mum-to-be, you may have loads of questions as it's a whole new, unknown, and exciting world. You might be wondering what diet plan is best during your early weeks, or what beauty and skincare products to avoid.
Ahead, we tackle a fairly common, but extremely important question: Should you get a flu shot while you're pregnant?
As the weather changes in Dubai and the temperature begins to drop into the rainy winter most of us in the UAE love, it's also when the dreaded influenza season kicks in. To minimise the risk of being infected by the disease, health professionals strongly advise residents to take the flu shot.
Flu vaccinations usually take around two weeks for the prevention effects to register in your body, so getting vaccinated during early autumn - near the end of October - is a must if you want to protect yourself and the baby bump from the annual sneezing, coughing, sniffling breakout.
For pregnant mums, here are all the answers you'll need for any flu shot-related questions you may have.
What is the Dubai "Flu Season"?
Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious, air-borne virus that infects the respiratory system. It can easily spread through droplets of water released from a runny nose or a cough.
It can be categorised into three types: Type A, Type B, and Type C:
- Type A influenza only attacks birds (such as chickens, ducks) and select mammals (including pigs and horses). Seasonal, it can be serious and cause widespread disease.
- Type B is only found in humans and can cause seasonal outbreaks just like Type A. Significantly less severe than the Type A virus, but can still be severely harmful.
- Type C causes mild respiratory problems.
UAE health authorities define "flu season" as the time when cases of the flu are more widespread and easy to contract. It typically spans from September to April, with its peak during the cold winter months from December to February.
In cooler emirates such as Ras Al Khaimah, flu season can extend to May.
What is the flu shot
The flu vaccine, or jab, helps protect people from Type A and Type B influenza. Currently, there is no immunization for Type C.
The flu shot also covers the deadly H1N1 strains, which was the cause of several fatal infection cases during the 2018 - 2019 flu season.
How long does the flu vaccine last
On average, a flu shot's protection will last at least 6 months. Its efficiency drops down over time due to the fact that influenza viruses change every year - the shot itself also changes from year to year in response. Another reason is because of the human body's changing antibody levels.
Are there side effects to a flu shot for pregnant women
Expecting mums may experience a few side effects, the most common of which are:
- Muscle aches
- Soreness, redness, or swelling from the flu shot area
If the side effects occur, they generally only last for 1 - 2 days. It's rare for flu shots to cause serious allergic reactions.
When should a pregnant woman NOT get a flu shot
If you have a severe and even life-threatening allergy to any of the vaccine ingredients, do not get the flu shot.
If you have an allergy to eggs, you can still get vaccinated, provided you inform your doctor or nurse and follow the additional safety measures. Pregnant women with a history of severe egg allergy (including egg protein), must tell the person giving the shot, and if the flu vaccine is greenlit, they mum must receive the vaccination in a proper medical setting, supervised by a licensed health care provider who can recognise and respond to any allergic reactions.
Are Flu Shots Safe During Pregnancy
According to the UK National Health Service (NHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), evidence points that pregnant women have a higher risk of developing pregnancy complications if they get the flu. These risks increase if the mother is in the late stages of pregnancy.
If a pregnant woman is infected with the flu, there is a chance the baby will have a low birth weight, will be born prematurely, and in worse cases, the flu virus may even result in stillbirth.
Thus, it's strongly recommended for pregnant women to get a proper flu vaccine to protect both the mum and the baby. As said in the CDC site, getting a flu shot reduces the risks for pregnant women by 40%. The vaccine also helps protect newborn babies from the flu during the first several months, especially when they are too young to get vaccinated.
How safe are flu vaccines on pregnant women
There is a large body of years of scientific studies and millions of cases that support the safety of flu shots on pregnant women and their babies (whether developing or already born), according to the NHS.
Additionally, women who received a flu shot while pregnant did not have a higher risk for miscarriages. Getting an influenza vaccine can prevent the flu and serious hospitalization in pregnant women.
If you have any concerns regarding the jab, it's advised to speak to a doctor.
Where to Get a Flu Shot in Dubai
In the UAE, flu shots are available across all government health centres and in a majority of private hospitals and clinics.
Doctors will typically provide information to patients about the flu, flu season, and the jab. This will include its advantages.
How much is a flu shot in Dubai
According to the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, a flu shot is free in government clinics for all high-risk individuals.
In private health centres, a flu vaccine typically costs AED 50.