Can I have my free influenza and whooping cough booster immunisation at the same visit?

If you are in your second or third trimester (when the whooping cough vaccine [Tdap] is recommended and free), this can be given with the flu vaccine at the same visit. Both immunisations are free for pregnant women.

I have just had my baby. Can I have an influenza immunisation? Will it protect my baby if I am breastfeeding?

It is safe for a breastfeeding woman to have the influenza immunisation. Breastfeeding may offer some initial protection to your baby. However, babies will have more protection if their mother is immunised during pregnancy.

I am pregnant and work with children. Should I have an influenza immunisation?

Yes. Influenza infection rates are generally highest in children, and they are a major source of the spread of influenza. The influenza virus may be found in respiratory secretions (breathing, coughing and sneezing) for 2 weeks or longer in children. Your risk of exposure to the influenza virus is higher and, as you are pregnant, so is your risk of influenza disease and serious complications.

It is also important for all people working with children, and especially young babies, to be immunised against influenza to reduce the risk of passing influenza onto them. 

Are there any preservatives in the influenza vaccine (eg, thiomersal)?

No. The vaccine used in New Zealand is preservative free.

Is the influenza vaccine a live vaccine?

No. The influenza vaccine used in New Zealand does not contain any live viruses. The influenza viruses are completely inactivated and cannot cause influenza.

I have a history of miscarriage. Is it OK to have an influenza immunisation?

Yes. Influenza immunisation does not increase the risk of miscarriage. However, catching influenza can increase the risk.

I am pregnant and want an influenza immunisation but I have a cold. Should I still have it?

If you don’t have a high fever and are only experiencing a cold, runny nose or sniffles, it’s okay to receive the immunisation. However, if you are very unwell, wait until you are better. If in doubt, check with your Lead Maternity Carer, doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Why is an influenza vaccination recommended every year?

Yearly immunisation is recommended for two reasons: first, because protection from the previous immunisation lessens over time; and second, because the circulating influenza viruses can change and the strains in the vaccine usually change each year in response to the changing virus pattern.

Women who are pregnant across two influenza seasons are recommended to have an influenza immunisation in both of the seasons. In addition to the reasons explained above, a pregnant woman’s risk from influenza also increases as pregnancy progresses.

When is the best time to be immunised?

It is possible to come in contact with influenza viruses all year round. However, the likelihood of influenza viruses circulating in the community significantly increases during winter. Influenza immunisation can be given at any time during pregnancy. It is preferable to be immunised as soon as the vaccine is available from 1 April, well before the start of winter.  

It is recommended that women who become pregnant after winter and have not received the current influenza vaccination are offered influenza vaccination up to and including 31 December.