For expectant parents in the throes of the holiday season, it can be tough to come up with gift ideas for a baby not yet born. Baby clothes? Grandma’s already taken care of that, with the lack of closet space to prove it! Diapers? Baby showers have taken care of those. So what can an expectant mom give her baby? Moms-to-be can give their wee ones the gift of health and vital protection by simply rolling up their sleeves and getting their flu shot.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than women who aren’t pregnant due to changes in the immune system, heart and lungs that take place during pregnancy. Pregnant women who contract the flu also have a greater chance for serious problems for their unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery. In newborns, these complications can lead to lengthy stays in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The flu shot is a safe, effective way to prevent the flu from infecting expectant moms and their baby. According to the CDC, the flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby, up to six months old, from the flu.

Expectant mothers often have concerns about the safety of being vaccinated during pregnancy. Over the years, millions of pregnant women have been safely given the seasonal flu shot. Several scientific studies have evaluated the safety of the flu shot during pregnancy. These studies, which included thousands of pregnant women, have not shown any evidence that flu shots cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. In addition, the CDC conducts ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety to ensure that vaccines like the flu shot remain save.

Want to give your baby the gift of health that keeps on giving this holiday season? It’s as simple as visiting your doctor, pharmacy or vaccination clinic to get vaccinated against the flu. It’s one gift your newborn won’t quickly outgrow!

Dr. Matt Linam

Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician

Arkansas Children’s Hospital

Assistant Professor

College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences