Breastfeeding and Flu Shots

Expert Pediatrics Q&A

Mothers of breastfed infants should get a flu vaccine if they were vaccinated while pregnant.
Mothers of breastfed infants should get a flu vaccine if they were vaccinated while pregnant. Photo by Tom Fullum/Getty Images

Q. Can I get a flu shot if I am breastfeeding? Priscilla.

A. Just like medications and breastfeeding, pediatricians are often asked about flu shots and breastfeeding...

Flu Shots and Breastfeeding

Yes, a flu shot is safe for breastfeeding mothers.

In fact, since your breastfed child is likely in a high risk group for complications from the flu because of her age, a flu shot is probably recommended for most breastfeeding mothers, unless there is another contraindication to your getting a flu shot.

Remember that you should get a flu shot if you are a household contact of someone in a high risk group, which includes:

Of course, the latest flu vaccine recommendations are that everyone who is at least 6 months old get a flu shot, so thinking about high risk groups is really just an extra reminder. Whether or not you have a baby in at home, you should get a flu vaccine and get protected against the flu.

FluMist and Breastfeeding

While the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices states that pregnant women shouldn't get FluMist, the live virus flu vaccine nasal spray, as long as there are no other contraindications, Flumist is okay for women who are:

  • postpartum
  • breastfeeding

It is also okay to get FluMist, which is thimerosal free, if you are going to be around someone else who is pregnant.

What To Know About Vaccines and Breastfeeding

Other things to know about vaccines and breastfeeding include that:

  • In addition to being safe while breastfeeding, it is actually strongly recommended that all pregnant women get a flu vaccine, as the "Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant."
  • A flu shot in pregnancy can also help to protect her baby from the flu.
  • Although thimerosal free flu shots are widely available, it is considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to get a flu vaccine with thimerosal.
  • Breastfeeding mothers shouldn't get the smallpox vaccine, which isn't routinely given anyway.

The only vaccine that a breastfeeding mother should probably not receive is the yellow fever vaccine. Fortunately, this isn't a routine vaccine and is only used when traveling to very specific parts of the world. And even then, the CDC states that while this vaccine should be avoided if you are breastfeeding, "when nursing mothers cannot avoid or postpone travel to areas endemic for yellow fever in which risk for acquisition is high, these women should be vaccinated."



Prevention and Control of Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, United States, 2015–16 Influenza Season, MMWR 2015, August 7, 2015 / 64(30);818-825

CDC. Guidelines for Vaccinating Pregnant Women. Updated March 2014. Accessed February 2016.

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