By. Ruby Booras, DNP ARNP, FNP-BC

Flu season is upon us. If you’re trying to conceive, you may be debating on whether or not to get the flu vaccine this year. One of our Nurse Practitioners, Ruby Booras, shares the answers to some of our patients most commonly asked questions about the flu vaccine.

Is it a good idea to get the flu vaccine while undergoing fertility treatment?

Yes. SRM recommends all patients and their family members receive the influenza vaccination unless there is a medical reason not to. The influenza vaccine “flu shot” is safe for both men and women undergoing fertility treatment, including IVF. It can also be given any time before or during pregnancy.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommend that women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should receive annual vaccination “flu shot” for influenza. Women who get influenza while pregnant are at a higher risk for serious illness and complications. The “flu shot” provides important protection against this harmful virus.

Ask your SRM or primary care provider if the influenza vaccine is right for you.

What are the different types of flu vaccines available? Is there one that is a better choice for those trying to conceive?

Only injectable influenza vaccines are recommended this year. Those trying to conceive or who are pregnant should receive an inactivated injectable influenza vaccine. The inactivated influenza vaccine comes in either a 1) trivalent shot or 2) the quadrivalent shot. The trivalent shot protects against three strains of flu. The quadrivalent shot covers four.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend one vaccine over the other.

The FluMist Quadrivalent® nasal spray is made from live virus and is not recommended in pregnant women or those trying to conceive. In fact, the FluMist Quadrivalent® is not recommended for anyone this flu season due to concerns about its effectiveness.

Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative used in multi-dose vials of influenza vaccine. According to the CDC, the small amount of thimerosal in vaccines has not been shown to cause harm if given while trying to conceive or during pregnancy, though there are thimerosal-free vaccines available.

For those undergoing fertility treatment who do come down with the flu, what are the possible complications?

The answer really depends on your treatment plan, the severity of your illness, and where you are at in your cycle. In some cases it may be necessary to delay or cancel your treatment until after your illness resolves. It is highly recommended that you receive a “flu shot” to help avoid potential disruption of your cycle. If you develop symptoms of the flu at any time during your treatment process, or are diagnosed with influenza by your primary care provider (PCP) you should notify your SRM patient care coordinator ASAP.**

Symptoms of influenza include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea but these symptoms are more common in children

Is it necessary to get the vaccine if you got it last year?

Yes. The influenza virus mutates every year, so the vaccine you received last year may not protect you against the flu virus that is active this year. It is best to get the flu shot annually by the end of October, though it certainly can be given later in the flu season if you have not received one yet.

 

** To avoid spreading the virus to others, be sure to contact your SRM patient care coordinator before coming to the clinic if you are not feeling well, have symptoms of the flu, and/or are diagnosed with influenza by your primary care provider (PCP).

References:

http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Influenza-Vaccination-During-Pregnancy

http://immunizationforwomen.org/patients/diseases-vaccines/influenza/influenza.php

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

http://www.npg-asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/News_and_Publications/Practice_Guidelines/Guidelines_and_Minimum_Standards/Vaccination_guidelines_for_female(1).pdf

 

Photo Credit: Alisa Anton