Newborn babies have a higher risk of serious consequences from flu, such as hospital admission. If the mother gets the flu vaccine during pregnancy, the baby is less likely to get the flu after being born. The flu vaccine also helps pregnant women directly. Pregnant women who have flu are more likely to need hospital admission than women of the same age who have flu and are not pregnant. The flu vaccine is safe for babies and for pregnant women.

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Possible consequences of flu

Illustration 1: sick baby

The flu can make babies very ill

Illustration 2: sick baby

 The flu can cause shortness of breath

Illustration 4: hospital

 Sometimes babies have to go to hospital

Illustration 4: pregnant woman ill from flu

Pregnant women can also become very ill from flu

How does the flu vaccine work

When you get the flu vaccine, your body makes antibodies against the flu virus. If you are pregnant, these antibodies go to your baby through the placenta. They protect the baby against flu in the first months after birth. You are also protected. If the baby or the pregnant woman gets flu after all, the infection usually causes mild illness. The vaccine itself does not reach the baby.

Flu during pregnancy

If a pregnant woman gets the flu, she has a higher risk of serious illness than a woman who is not pregnant. Pregnant women are more likely to need hospital admission if they get the flu, compared to women of the same age who are not pregnant. The risk of ICU admission or death from flu does not seem to increase during pregnancy.

Based on studies in other countries, an estimated 11,000 women in the Netherlands get flu each year. Around 45 of these women need hospital admission for the consequences of flu. Of those women in hospital, about 1 in 5 need to go to ICU.