Pregnancy and the Flu Shot

So, my OBGYNs are telling me (all of them) that pregnant women must get a flu shot. My wellness administrator at the office, who is setting up on-site flu shots for employees and has a son of her own, is also strongly recommending that I get one. Even friends of mine, formerly terrified of both doctors and anything needle-related have changed their tunes now that they are mothers.

I don’t want to get the flu shot. I don’t want to get ANY sort of shot. It’s not that I am afraid of needles–how could I be given the amount of blood I’ve had taken from me over the course of my pregnancy? I am starting to think the nurses at my OBGYNs’ are vampires. It’s that I’m one of those people who refuses to take ANYTHING. You know, my body is a temple and all that? As an exercise enthusiast (OK, I’m basically obsessed), non-smoking vegetarian, it has been my motto/mantra/etc. to not take any sort of medication unless it has been deemed unlawful not to. Back when everyone in NYC was getting vaccinated against whichever hepatitis it was several years ago–B, I think–my doctor had to plead with me to get me to take the shots, all three of them. I only acquiesced after he agreed to give me the shots himself. He’s a good looking, young doctor and since I am never, ever ill, I realized the only time I would see him otherwise was for my annual physical.

But that was then, and it was solely about ME. Now I have someone else to think about, the one inside me who can’t make decisions on his own but who certainly does NOT want me to come down with the flu. My rationalization for not getting the flu shot–this year and every year–is that I’ve never had the flu. I just don’t get sick. My doctor put things in perspective for me very clearly: as a pregnant woman my immune system is compromised, making me more susceptible to things I wouldn’t normally get. If I get the flu while pregnant, the consequences could be dire–I could end up feeling like I’ve gotten the flu fifty times over. Anything that harms me, in turn, harms my baby. Not to mention that if I get the flu I can’t exactly work out. Maintaining a fit pregnancy means more than just exercising–for me, it’s a holistic approach.

The other thing that always bothered me about the flu shot is the myth, which I firmly believed, that getting the flu shot can give you the flu. My wellness administrator at work, who worked her way through college as a pharmacy technician, and of course my OBGYNs, all confirmed for me what I secretly knew was true: getting the flu shot CANNOT give you the flu. According to my wellness administrator, the flu shot is “a-cellular.” I don’t know what that means per say but she sounded like she knew what she was talking about. She explained that the flu virus takes about three weeks to show up once you’ve caught it, so often people take the flu shot too late, after they’ve already been exposed, and subsequently get the flu anyway, blaming it on the shot.

She is the kind of woman who would do ANYTHING for her son, regardless of whether or not she’d agreed with the philosophy behind it pre-motherhood. I am the same kind of woman. So, next week, I’ll be back at the OBGYN for my flu shot. This does not mean I will be popping a pill every time I sniff, but it does hopefully mean I won’t get sick.

Author by Jennifer Jordan