Flu recommendations for infertility patients

By Bradley S. Trivax, M.D.

It is recommended that all patients and their family members receive the influenza vaccination unless there is a medical reason not to. The influenza vaccine “flu shot” is safe for both men and women undergoing fertility treatment, including IVF. It can also be given any time before or during pregnancy.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommend that women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should receive annual vaccination “flu shot” for influenza. Women who get influenza while pregnant are at a higher risk for serious illness and complications. The “flu shot” provides important protection against this harmful virus.

Only injectable influenza vaccines are recommended this year. Those trying to conceive or who are pregnant should receive an inactivated injectable influenza vaccine. The inactivated influenza vaccine comes in either a 1) trivalent shot or 2) the quadrivalent shot. The trivalent shot protects against three strains of flu. The quadrivalent shot covers four. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend one vaccine over the other.

The FluMist Quadrivalent® nasal spray is made from live virus and is not recommended in pregnant women or those trying to conceive.

Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative used in multi-dose vials of influenza vaccine. According to the CDC, the small amount of thimerosal in vaccines has not been shown to cause harm if given while trying to conceive or during pregnancy, though there are thimerosal-free vaccines available.

For some patients it may be necessary to delay or cancel your treatment until after your illness resolves. It is highly recommended that you receive a “flu shot” to help avoid potential disruption of your cycle. If you develop symptoms of the flu at any time during your treatment process, or are diagnosed with influenza by your primary care provider (PCP) you should notify your doctor.

The influenza virus mutates every year, so the vaccine you received last year may not protect you against the flu virus that is active this year.

Being that it is February already, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as long as the flu virus is circulating, you should get the vaccine to protect your health. In fact, the CDC recommends that all women who are actively pursuing pregnancy and those who are already pregnant should receive the flu vaccination. Fertility-wise, it is advised to get a flu vaccine to avoid interruption to your fertility treatment cycle.

The CDC recommend 3 steps to avoiding the flu:

  1. Get the flu vaccine.
    2. If you get the flu, seek early treatment and stay home until 24 hours after your fever resolves.
    3. Practice preventative actions (frequent hand washing, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, avoid touching your mouth and nose, avoid close contact with sick people).

Bradley Trivax, M.D. is a double board certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility & Obstetrics and Gynecology. An honors graduate of the University of Michigan, Dr. Trivax earned his medical doctorate at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed his residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Winthrop University Hospital. Dr. Trivax completed his subspecialty fellowship training in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at UCLA Medical Center, where he was the recipient of the Outstanding Laparoendoscopic Award. Dr. Trivax has an extensive bibliography of publications and presentations, including critical evaluations of the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, genetic disorders, and in vitro fertilization. Dr. Trivax is a clinical instructor at Winthrop University Hospital, Long Island College Hospital, and the Brooklyn Hospital Center. Dr. Trivax is an Associate Member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. He is also a member of the Nassau County Obstetrics and Gynecology Society, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. His professional interests include reproductive surgery, polycystic ovary syndrome, and androgen-related disorders. Dr. Trivax is also a member of Path2Parenthood’s Board of Directors. You can see him in a current video, here.

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