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How Does the Flu Shot Affect Fertility Treatment?

As flu season arrives, Dr. Gleicher urges everyone to get their flu shot and discusses a new study to take place at CHR. This IRB-approved study will look at the effects of the flu shot on the immune systems of pregnant women.

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I want to talk to you today about the flu. We are just entering this year's flu season and if you have listened to the news on television or read the papers, you know that last year's flu season was one of the worst on record. Over 80,000 people died during the flu season from this disease which we all, in general, don't consider as a serious health threat yet, it is. And therefore, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has been very active in promoting prevention of flu in association with pregnancy. And that means that if you are planning on being pregnant or if you are in fertility treatments in order to conceive, you better get immunized. Flu vaccinations in pregnancy are considered very safe. They have been extensively investigated all over the world in different patient populations and everywhere they have been found to be safe. Indeed, they have been found to significantly reduce certain complications of pregnancies-- particularly premature labor-- and that is a remarkable finding and an important finding because a premature labor is, obviously, the number one perinatal outcome problem in pregnancy worldwide. Here at CHR, we have a secondary reason why we want you to get the flu shot this year. And that reason is that we are conducting a study in which we are trying to entertain, trying to understand, what a flu shot actually does to the immune system after pregnant woman. The reason why we are investigating this is because we believe that whatever the flu shot does to pregnant women that results in such a great reduction in premature labor may also have meaning to how the maternal immune system in general works in pregnancy and may help us understand how we can improve implantation or prevent certain miscarriages from happening. We are doing a study, which is IRB (institutional review board) approved, where really nothing negative happens except that you are getting a free flu shot. The study timing of the flu shot just varies. Either you get it just before conception or just after conception, and that difference we are trying to investigate the immune system in blood samples that you as a patient here at CHR would give us anyway. So, get your flu shot this year. Do it for your own sake tell your family to get their flu shot for their own best interest. And if at the same time can help us in our study, only that much better. Thank you very much.

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