- With Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief
Roger W. Harms, M.D.read biographyclose window
Roger W. Harms, M.D.Roger W. Harms, M.D.
"Nothing helps people stay healthy more than the power of real knowledge about health." — Dr. Roger Harms
As medical director of content, Dr. Roger Harms is excited about the potential for Mayo Clinic's health information site to help educate people about their health and provide them the tools and information to live healthier lives.
The Auburn, Neb., native has been with Mayo Clinic since 1981 and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Harms is a practicing physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his specialty areas include office gynecology, high-risk obstetrics and obstetrical ultrasound.
From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Harms was director for education at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Harms was the 1988 Mayo Medical School Teacher of the Year and served as associate dean for student affairs and academic affairs. He is the co-author of the "Mayo Clinic Model of Education." In 2008, Dr. Harms was presented the Distinguished Educator Award, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
Dr. Harms is vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and medical editor of the Pregnancy section on this website. In addition, Dr. Harms is editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" book, a month-by-month guide to everything a woman needs to know about having a baby.
"My medical education experience has grown out of a love of teaching, and that is what this site is about," Dr. Harms says. "If any visitor to this site makes a more informed and thus more comfortable decision about his or her health because of the information we provide, we are successful."
Healthy pregnancy (19)
- Flu shot in pregnancy: Is it safe?
- Leg cramps during pregnancy: Preventable?
- Vaccines during pregnancy: Are they safe?
- see all in Healthy pregnancy
First trimester (3)
- Nausea during pregnancy: A good thing?
- Implantation bleeding: Normal in early pregnancy?
- Birth control pills: Harmful in early pregnancy?
Second trimester (1)
- Fundal height: An accurate sign of fetal growth?
Third trimester (1)
- Hypnobirthing: How does it work?
Pregnancy problems (9)
- Low amniotic fluid: How is it treated?
- Cervical length: Why does it matter during pregnancy?
- Diastasis recti: How does pregnancy affect stomach muscles?
- see all in Pregnancy problems
Flu shot in pregnancy: Is it safe?
Is it safe to get a flu shot during pregnancy?
from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
Yes, it's safe to get an influenza (flu) shot during pregnancy. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for anyone who's pregnant during flu season — typically early October through late March.
A flu shot during pregnancy can help:
- Prevent the flu and maternal complications. Pregnancy puts extra stress on your heart and lungs. Pregnancy can also affect your immune system. These factors increase the risk of becoming severely ill due to the flu.
- Prevent potential pregnancy problems due to the flu. Flu during pregnancy seems to increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight.
- Protect your baby after birth. Infants are at increased risk of severe flu symptoms, but childhood flu vaccines can't begin until a baby is 6 months old. If you have a flu shot during pregnancy, however, the antibodies you develop will pass through the placenta to help protect your baby from the flu. In a 2011 study, babies whose mothers had a flu shot during pregnancy were nearly 50 percent less likely to be hospitalized with the flu during their first flu season than were babies of unvaccinated mothers.
When you get your flu shot, request the flu shot — not the nasal spray vaccine. The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus, so it's safe for both mother and baby during any stage of pregnancy. The nasal spray vaccine is made from a live virus, which makes it less appropriate during pregnancy or while you're trying to conceive.
If you're allergic to eggs, check with your doctor before receiving a flu shot. The flu vaccine contains tiny amounts of egg protein. If you have an egg allergy or sensitivity, you'll likely be able to receive a flu shot — but you might need to take special precautions, such as waiting in the doctor's office for at least 30 minutes after vaccination in case of a reaction. There's also a flu vaccine that doesn't contain egg protein, approved for use in adults age 18 and older. Also check with your doctor if you had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine.Next question
Leg cramps during pregnancy: Preventable?
- Jamieson DJ, et al. Influenza and pregnancy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 21, 2013.
- Poehling KA, et al. Impact of maternal immunization on influenza hospitalizations in infants. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2011;204:S141.
- Omer SB, et al. Maternal influenza immunization and reduced likelihood of prematurity and small for gestational age births: A retrospective cohort study. PLoS Medicine. 2011;8:e1000441.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Prevention and control of influenza with vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2011. MMWR. 2011;60:1128. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6033a3.htm. Accessed July 29, 2013.
- Guidelines for vaccinating pregnant women. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/preg-guide.htm#flu1. Accessed May 21, 2013.
- What you should know for the 2013-2014 influenza season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2013-2014.htm. Accessed June 4, 2013
- Pasternak B, et al. Vaccination against pandemic A/H1N1 2009 influenza in pregnancy and risk of fetal death: Cohort study in Denmark. BMJ. 2012;344:e2794.
- Sheffield JS, et al. Effect of influenza vaccination in the first trimester of pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2012;120:532.
- FDA approves first seasonal influenza vaccine manufactured using cell culture technology. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm328982.htm. Accessed May 21, 2013.
- Nordin JD, et al. Maternal safety of trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine in pregnant women. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2013;121:519.
- Parboosing R, et al. Gestational influenza and bipolar disorder in adult offspring. JAMA Psychiatry. In press. Accessed July 29, 2013.
- Seasonal flu vaccine safety and pregnant women. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/qa_vacpregnant.htm. Accessed May 23, 2013.