Flu Vaccines Given to Pregnant Women Protect Their Newborn Babies

2 min read

Jan. 25, 2024 -- If pregnant women are given the flu vaccine, their newborns are less likely to need emergency care or to be hospitalized for the flu, according to a new study.

Seven hospitals around the country studied how flu vaccinations given to pregnant women protected their babies, who cannot be vaccinated for the flu until they are 6 months old.

According to the CDC, researchers found that vaccinating moms reduced the rate of emergency room visits for infants younger than 6 months old by 20% and the rate of hospitalizations by 40%. Vaccinating pregnant women also reduced the risk of babies younger than 6 months from getting the flu by one third. 

“Flu vaccination during pregnancy is safe and protects both pregnant people and their infants,” the CDC wrote.

Just half of pregnant women get the flu vaccine, according to John Williams, MD, with UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, one of the participating hospitals.

"I think it's very natural that pregnant mothers are always concerned about everything they put in their body – what they eat, what they drink," Williams told KDKA of CBS News in Pittsburgh. "What we know about flu shots is the flu vaccine has been about the same for about 50 years, and so we have tons of evidence to show that it's very safe during pregnancy. It is not associated with preterm birth or adverse outcomes for the mother or for the baby. It's very safe and effective."

The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

“The findings in this study indicate that maternal influenza vaccination during pregnancy provided important protection for the infant in the first few months of life before infants are eligible for vaccination,” the authors wrote.