Should I get a flu shot if I am breastfeeding?

Every person 6 months of age and older, who has not had a serious reaction to the flu shot in the past, should be vaccinated each flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The flu shot reduces your risk of getting sick with the flu by 40 to 60 percent or more, and reduces the severity of flu if you do get sick. It also reduces your child's risk of flu-related illness.

Babies under the age of 6 months cannot be given the flu shot directly. Even after they start receiving flu shots, their protection is incomplete until they have two shots approximately 28 days apart. It generally takes about two weeks after the second shot for babies to acquire maximum protection.

According to the Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University, a breastfeeding mother who has been vaccinated with the flu vaccine will transfer antibodies to her baby through her milk, giving her newborn some protection from the flu virus.

“Cocooning”—ensuring that parents, siblings, grandparents, and other caregivers have received a flu shot during the current flu season —can help protect your baby from the flu until he is old enough to be vaccinated.

If you and/or your child becomes ill with the flu, keep breastfeeding. Contact your health care provider and your child’s health care provider right away. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC recommend that individuals at higher risk for flu-related complications (including women within the first two weeks postpartum, and infants) consider taking an antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu. Given that only a small amount of the drug transfers into human milk, Tamiflu is considered compatible with breastfeeding,

For more information about the flu and the flu vaccine, click here.

Last updated November 20, 2020

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