Dr David Hoffman Answers Common Questions About the Flu Vaccine
Trying to conceive? South Florida’s reproductive specialist, Dr. David Hoffman, answers some common questions on how to best navigate the season of sniffles.
Q: Is it a good idea to get the flu vaccine while undergoing fertility treatment?
A: It is important for all individuals to get the flu vaccine as the benefit of the vaccine in reducing the risk of getting the flu far outweighs the risk of the vaccine. This is especially important to couples that are undergoing fertility treatment as getting the flu during treatment might result in cancellation of the cycle, adversely affect the sperm and/or delay embryo transfer.
Q:What are the different types of flu vaccines available? Is there one that is a better choice for those trying to conceive?
A: There are 2 types of vaccines that are available. The first is injectable and utilizes killed virus from strains that are expected to be the predominant strain for that year. This enables you immune system to make antibodies against the virus to reduce your likelihood of getting the flu. The injection is given either in the muscle which is the preferred route or under the skin - subcutaneous. This vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women as well. The other vaccine is given in the nose by a spray (intranasal). This vaccine utilizes attenuated live virus (actual flu virus that is grown in culture to significantly reduce the risk of infection) and also enables your immune system to make antibodies against the virus to reduce your likelihood of getting the flu. This vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women, but is given to young children. The injectable vaccine usually causes soreness at the site of injection and will not give you the flu. It is important when getting the injectable vaccine to answer several questions to reduce allergic reactions or see if you would be better to receive the intranasal preparation. Some individuals that receive the intranasal get mild flu-like symptoms that can be treated with Tylenol and rest.
Q: For those undergoing IVF who do come down with the flu, what are the possible complications?
A: Getting the flu can be very serious with lost days from work, possible hospitalization and a very small percentage of individuals can get Guillain-Barré syndrome which can result in paralysis (source: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/gbs/detail_gbs.htm). The flu virus still results in many deaths worldwide. If you contract the flu, you can be treated with antiviral medications provided it is within the first 48 hours. These medications reduce the duration and severity of the illness. Speak with your healthcare provider.
Q:Is it necessary to get the vaccine if you got it last year?
A: Even if you have received the vaccine the previous year it is important to get the vaccine every year as immunity does not last longer that the flu season (approximately 9 months) and the strains vary from year to year. Now is the time to take action and get the vaccine. We, as healthcare providers get the vaccine every year and encourage all of our staff and patients to do so as well.
For more information on the flu vaccine and fertility or to schedule an appointment with one of the fertility experts at IVF FLORIDA call 866-770-2168 or click here.