Outbreaks of influenza, also known as the flu, occur in different seasonal patterns around the world. In our region, flu season will typically begin in the late fall and peak in mid to late winter.
According to the CDC, the influenza vaccination is safe and effective and is the single best way to help protect yourself and your family from the flu each year. Since the virus and the vaccine changes every year, it is important to get a flu vaccination annually.
When you’re pregnant
The flu vaccine is recommended for all pregnant women during the influenza season. By the mother receiving the flu vaccine during pregnancy, she is able to pass on antibodies that help to protect her baby from getting the flu once the baby is born as babies are not able to get the flu vaccine until they are at least 6 months of age. Caregivers and grandparents of infants less than 6 months of age should also get vaccinated.
When you’re breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can help protect your baby from infection and fight germs that are around you. If you can, request immediate skin-to-skin contact with your new baby. This appears to make their immune system stronger.
The flu is spread in droplets that come from coughs or sneezes, not through breast milk. If you are breastfeeding and get the flu, it is recommended to continue with breastfeeding. Make sure you wash your hands frequently using soap and water or a hand sanitizer. While experts say that soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs, alcohol-based hand sanitizers work very well, too.
When friends and family are sick
If friends or family are showing signs of the flu, ask them to stay away until they are feeling better. Stay six feet away from people who are sick or displaying flu symptoms. If sick people cough, ask them to cover their mouth and nose with a facial tissue or even to use the crook of their elbow if no tissues are available.
Always have a bottle of hand sanitizer with you when you’re out and about. For sanitizers to work, people need to rub vigorously for a full 15 to 20 seconds.
Remember, this is your baby. You’re in charge and it’s your responsibility to keep your baby healthy. If you’re not comfortable with other people holding him or her, just say so. People should respect your wishes.
- What you need to know about the flu and the flu vaccine
- Flu shot FAQs: Myths and facts
- The importance of a flu shot for pregnant women