Although breastfeeding passes many immune factors to baby, breastfeeding should not be considered a substitute for immunization. Research indicates that when breastfed babies are vaccinated, they will produce higher levels of antibodies in comparison to formula fed babies. Breast-feeding does not adversely affect immunization and is not a contraindication for any vaccine. Limited data indicate that breast-feeding can enhance the response to certain vaccine antigens.
One of the questions we hear from many new moms and moms-to-be is whether it is safe to get vaccinated while breastfeeding. Vaccination has been a hot topic in recent years with passionate advocates on both sides. This makes it really easy to find conflicting information and oftentimes leads to even more questions than any real answers. The short answer to whether vaccines are safe during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is yes. The majority of live viruses in vaccines have been shown to not transfer into human milk and do not pose a risk for mothers who are breastfeeding or for their infants. This means that most vaccines are not hazardous for nursing mothers or their infants.
There is no risk to getting the flu shot while you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding women should get the flu shot to protect themselves from flu. Getting vaccinated reduces your risk of getting sick and of passing the flu on to your baby, thus protecting the baby from flu also. This is especially important for children younger than 6 months old since they are too young to receive flu vaccine themselves.
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 60 percent or more. 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.