Updated on December 30, 2011
K.C. asks from Harper Woods, MI
24 answers

Hi mamas,

I am 7 months preg with my third, Never once had I got the flu shot. My kids are 12 and 7 and I am 30. Never once have we gotten the flu. THIS IS NOT TO TALK BADLY ABOUT ANYONE WHO GETS IT, but I would rather take my chances getting it without the shot. Since you have a chance of getting it with or without the shot anyway. I am not one to get sick often at all.

Well since I got it (flu shot) I have had a cough that will not go away since October. It actually started a few hours after the shot. I have coughing spells so bad I can hardly breath. I also ocasionally have shortess of breath. I called my OB, they said it was not the shot. She told me which medications I could take for it. I went to see my promary care doctor. He refered me to a pulmanologist because he didn't like what he was seeing with the functionality of my lungs. Needless to say the cough never went away...The coughing spells also wake me from my sleep ocasionally. A few weeks ago I woke up coughing and immediately felt a pain. I knew I pulled a side muscle with the pain going from my side to back. I called OB about this and while in the exam room I had a coughing spell and it felt like something popped in my side/back. I had a short blackout and could not even speak because of the pain. She told me to take a Motrin 800 and take a long hot bath and go to sleep and I would be all better when I woke up. Well, that was not the case, I am in sooo much pain I have to now contort my body to cough becuase if I don't it feels like something is going to pop again. I am scared this is bad for baby in some kind of way. Although OB keeps telling me its not.

I don't like taking the Motrin 800 because they hardly work anyway BUT I don't know what to do. I am not one to take a lot of meds anyway, preg or not. I am scared since I am so close to delivery. I deliver natural with no meds and I am scared that if I can't get this pain/cough under control I may not be able to have a natural delivery.

I am angry because I went back and forth with my OB because I did not want the shot anyway but she basically told me she couldn't treat me if I didn't get it. I guess thats partly my fault I should of found another OB but she came highly recommended by my trusted GYN.

Sorry so long but I needed to vent a little and ask if any of you have went thru this or have any advise/suggestions.

PS - Someone mentioned I did not say what the pulminary doc said. He said he thinks it could be a side effect/irritation from the flu shot this is also what my primary doc said. He gave me a few things to try because he didn't want to medicate me with too much since I am pregnant. No, I do not have any other symptoms. I do not have a cold, never since shot have I had fever, chills, or muscle aches due to the flu. And NO I am not one to complain about every little thing because I try to keep myself happy so I don't have to frequently call the doctor. If annything I am more frustrated than angry because if I am in this much pain from a cough I can't imagine what the pain will feel like trying to deliver.

PPS - There is not a history of asthma with me or my parents, etc. So I have never had a cough like this. Neither doc wants to give me an inhaler because they say that it produces a cough.

What can I do next?

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answers from Chicago on

My volunteer job required that everyone get a flu shot, so I quit. But one person I knew told me she had been to the ER that morning with symptoms from a reaction to her flu shot. Her lips and cheeks were swelling. She had to have massive doses of antihistimene. She did not mention a fever. If you can get this documented as a reaction to the flu shot you will have a medical exemption the next time they require you to have a flu shot. The state will generally recognize either a religious exemption, a medical exemption (you have to have a documented reaction to the shot) and some states will allow a 'conscientious objector' kind of exemption. HTH!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Please let me know what they decide. I have no choice in getting the flu shot two years ago I had a allergic reaction to the H1N1 shot I had to go through extensive allergy testing for that and another reason. I have had a cough for many years now that I can not get any doctor to take notice it started just as you described it will go away by mid to late spring some years only to start again in the fall after the shot. I cough so bad that I almost throw up. The cough is only bad in the morning sometimes at night when I go to sleep now its been 3 months since the shot. I DO NOT get my children the shot my youngest who is 12 now was out of school and so sick the only year I got him the shot that the school called the truant office on me between that and actually having H1N1 that year. The sickness from the shot never was enough to take him to the doctors other than to get a note from school which is in my book is a waste of money, time and worse for the child by taking him in public. I actually think that is how he got the H1N1 was taking him to the doctor to satisfy the school.

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answers from Lakeland on

Cough is one of the side effects from the vaccine (inactive or live vaccine) it is right here on the CDC web-site (See link below). It does not state if it is chronic cough though.

I do not get the flu vaccine and no one in my family does either. It is not even 80% effective so I would rather take my chances being exposed the old fashioned way. I eat a healthy diet and take care of myself when I am sick, I do my best to not spread my germs to others.

I would be looking for a new OB/GYN right away, like one of the other posters what else will this doctor pressure you into. And if the majority of doctors do not report the simplest side effects from any vaccine then no one knows about it. Some side effects may seem insignificant but to others can cause bigger problems. No human re-acts the same to everything.


Another site to check out is:

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answers from Hartford on

Chances are actually much, much higher that you were already getting sick before you received the vaccine. Yes, vaccines can cause mild adverse reactions and last for a couple of days up to two weeks but after that they typically stop. What you have is unlikely to have been caused by the flu vaccine, especially based on the timing.

I really believe you need to be tested for something else like pertussis or consider the fact that the weather has been so ridiculous with the back and forth temperatures that you could have a mold problem in your home causing the cough even if you've never had allergies before. And just so you know, you did NOT put mercury into your unborn baby. Good grief. You did the right thing getting that vaccine and your baby was protected since it will be born during the worst of the flu season.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Going against the flow here and saying your cough could very easily be due to the shot, since it started within hours of your getting it, and has lasted this long. [It might not be as well; but I would suggest looking at the particular shot's package insert and seeing if a prolonged and/or persistent cough may be one of the side effects.] After all, immunity from the shot is supposed to last for several months, so why cannot the negative side effects last that long as well?

Your OB sounds like a peach! </sarcasm> I would suggest looking for a new OB ***IMMEDIATELY***. If she is like this over a freakin' **flu shot**, what will she be like over something else that is important to you? Do you really want to have an argument like that when you're in labor?

Doctors are trained to believe that vaccinations have few or no side effects, so will usually say that any negative effects a patient reports after a vaccine are not vaccine-related. However, if doctors don't report these side effects, then they remain unknown, so other doctors don't know that these side effects are indeed occurring, so they tell *their* patients that it's not a side effects, and a vicious cycle ensues. Many doctors don't even read the package inserts of the medications they give, including vaccinations, so don't know what side effects may truly occur, especially if they're more subtle or rare.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Coughing, for as long as you have had it, is not a symptom of flu.

Flu is about fever, bad body aches, etc. But the cough you describe does not sound in any way like the usual influenza and you don't describe muscular aches (not the same at all as a pulled muscle due to the cough) or even a fever, which is pretty much universal with flu.

You also say this started in October. It's nearly the end of December and you are still coughing with no fever. That is not flu, nor is it caused by the flu shot. You didn't say whether you did go to the pulmonologist as recommended, or what the pulmonologist said. Did you go to a doctor and ask to be examined for flu?

This cough did not come from the shot. The shot is made from a dead version of the virus, not a live one; it cannot "give" you the flu. Some people experience temporary side effects -- soreness at the injection site, a slightly elevated temperature for the rest of the day after the shot, sometimes slightly more. But the shot does not give people the flu, only flulike symptoms for a short, short time. Coughing from October until the end of the year isn't flu; if it were flu, you would have long since been hospitalized if it went on this long.

The Centers for Disease Control estimated that between 3,000 and as many as 36,000 people die each year due directly to flu or to flu-related complications (hence the wide range in numbers). So at a minimum, let's say 3,000 people die a year from flu. Young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to serious flu complications. That puts you and your kids directly in the group with the most potential problems if you do get flu.

Please take the energy and anger that's now aimed at your OB and use it instead to get aggressive with your regular doctor and get better diagnosis and treatment for the cough.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I don't think your cough is from the flu shot. The flu causes a fever and you did not mention that at all. And the flus does not last months on end, usually a week or so. Sounds like a coincidence to me. What happened at the pulmanoligist? Do you remember choking on anything? Something could be stuck in your lungs? Sorry your sick, no fun when your pregnant! Good luck...

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Here are my thoughts...get checked out to make sure you do not have whooping cough, it has been making a come back even if you were vaccinated as a child.

Also, I had some asthma flare up with my second pregnancy...I had dealt with it in the past and so it wasn't new but the pregnancy seemed to trigger it. I was given a nebulizer with albuterol to use to control the coughing. They gave me a very low dose and it helped me so much. My son who has asthma will suddenly develop a cough like you describe, with chest pain and barely able to catch his breath and after an albuterol treatment with the nebulizer the cough is gone.

I am just so sorry you have developed this cough...please check into both whooping cough and possible pregnancy induced asthma. sending you a huge hug!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

First ~ the flu shot is a dead virus, so you can't get the flu from the vaccine. It usually contains 3 strains of the flu .. the swine flu is 1, and usually whatever strain went around last year is another, and the 3rd is a guess at what strain might go around this year.
You could get sick from other things in the vaccine. It's made in eggs, so if you have an allergy to eggs you shouldn't get it. I'm sure there are other things in it that you could have some sort of reaction to.

Second ~ coming down with a cough hours after getting the vaccine is probably coincidence. Perhaps you were starting to come down with something already. It kind of sounds more like a bronchitis.

Third ~ don't take motrin, Especially if you are close to delivering. 1 dose won't hurt anything, but don't take more. It could cause a hole that's in the baby's heart right now for fetal circulation to remain open after birth. If you want to look it up, it's called Patent Ductus Arteriosis.

Fourth ~ I agree with a couple other wirters who suggested getting checked out for whooping cough. It is making it's way back. Where I work we were strongly advised to get vaccinated for it. Or the pregnancy induced asthma is possible, too. You can come down with asthma at any point in your life, with or without a family history. When you're pregnant, you're actually in a state of low immunity, so you're more prone to infections and things.

Try going to a chiropractor or going for a massage. A good chiropractor can help get that rib back into place and relieve your pain. He may even be able to help with the cough. He doesn't necessarily have to crack your neck or anything if you don't want him to, but they are good at what they do. A massage will help to relax those muscles.

At this point in your pregnancy it's unrealistic to fire your OB, you would have a very tough time finding another doctor to accept you. I hope you feel better! Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think that labor with an injury like this without medication is the primary concern at this point because I would think that you are going to not be able to do a natural delivery.

I would think that using a nebulizer to get the goo up and open up those airways is what should be done. Sorry, I disagree with the docs. If I have a cough that won't go away I can do 2-3 breathing treatments and it is gone.

Getting the cough under control, no matter what meds it takes, so the injury can heal is the main priority so you can attempt natural child birth is what you need to focus on.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

The flu scares ob's as it raises the mortality rates for mom and baby. With baby 3 I got a cough that lasted from 4months to delivery. It apparently was due to the fact that my blood pressure would spike and send a whole reaction which included coughing so hard I thought I would deliver due to pressure. I ended up staying post partum for eclamptic treatment and a bp of 220/120. My friend had a chronic sinus infection that caused months of coughing that was antibiotic resistent and needed vanco post delivery to get rid of. So a lot of things could be going on...also are you on an inhaler to help with the cough symptoms? Could be an answer.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Oh, I would be so mad at my OB also. You should have gotten a new doc. I'm so sorry. Have you considered seeing a midwife? They tend to be more naturally minded. Doctors will always say that there is no connection between vaccines and reactions. They just don't. Here's a story for you: http://iansvoice.org/default.aspx
This child died after receiving the Hep B vaccine in the hospital. Every doctor/specialist insisted that the reactions he was having could not be related to the vaccine. They just wouldn't or couldn't believe that there could be any connection. In the end, it was determined that the vaccine was the culprit by the medical community. It was too late. The doctor actually did report it to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System). Only about 10%-at most- are reported! So, the numbers of events that the doctors/pharma has are very skewed. Most doctors refuse to report because they don't believe it could be true. It is a crazy, vicious cycle.

The other thing about taking the flu shot in pregnancy is that you have now introduced mercury to your developing baby's system. It is a dangerous combination. This is also why I don't do rhogam shots. They contain mercury. Well, you can get non-mercury ones, which I do take postpartum if necessary (if the baby is +, and there is risk of blood mixing, which is not normal).

So, what can you do now? Fire your doctor. Get one who believes like you do. You should not be forced to get care that you do not want. You are hiring the doctor, not the other way around. That is bullying. Also, read the book, The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, by Henci Goer. It will empower you. Take some essential oils. Get Young Living's Thieves Oil and diffuse it. You can also put some on your neck and throat, and on the bottom of your sock-encased feet. Take Vitamin D. Go see a chiropractor, who should be able to help you and offer more advice about healthy alternatives to pharmaceuticals, which are so not good for you or baby. And, the chiro might be able to offer advice on the mercury exposure for your baby. You probably can't do anything about that until after baby is born though because chelation and such is dangerous during pregnancy-I think. But, the chiro and a midwife should be able to advise you on diet and how to maintain the healthiest pregnancy possible.

Again, I am so sorry, and I would be furious. I know many people say that they get the shot, yada yada yada, no effects. Well, they don't really know. Does the child have ADD/ADHD, asthma, allergies, etc? They might now know for years, and even then will probably never make the connection. Look at the increase in these childhood diseases and I ask why. We poison our bodies and then expect health.
Blessings to you. I pray that you find excellent health care. Fire that doctor. Seriously!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Are you sure it's not pertussis? Have you been tested for that?

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answers from Los Angeles on

Couple of things. Having had two c-sections, I can tell you that a cough post C-section would be one of the worst things I can imagine. I lived in fear of getting a cough as my second C-section approached. Abdominal surgery and coughing don't mix. So if you do have this cough close to your due date, let you dr. know just how badly you need to a void a c-section.
Here is more food for thought. I was scheduled to take my daughter in for her flu shot one day, but something happened and I had to skip the appointment. Later that night my daughter began to vomit and had a terrible stomach flu. Can you imagine the blame I would have had for that shot had we shown up for the appointment?
I think the cough being related to the flu shot is very unlikely. And your Dr.s don't really know what to do about your symptoms . We expect Dr.s to know everything. Well, they don't. Keep at it with your Dr.s and push them to give you more consideration. Here is a little inside knowledge being married to a family practice doc. They are inundated with people in need all day long. There are also many (not saying you are one of them), people who will complain about the absolute littlest things. Their Dr.s put them off with a med here and a med there, because in most cases, these are things that will resolve on their own and there's not much to be done about it. If you are persistent, your Dr. will need to take you more seriously. Have you had an X-ray?
I know that when both my husband and I get coughs, it can go on for months because we both developed a case of reactive airway disease. Our lungs are easily irritated when something happens and they don't recover well because the coughing itself irritates the lungs. Albuteral breathing treatments help a lot to lessen the irritation and give you lungs a chance to recover. I also recalll pulling all sorts of muscles when pregnant. I could hardly laugh or cough without it hurting, your body is being so contorted.
Its clear you are miserable. And I am very sorry this is all happening to you. Its tempting to want to blame others when things aren't going our way.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You might have gotten sick even before you got the flu shot.
Because you have been coughing for so long, it may actually be due to asthma or acid reflux. Have you cut out carbs? Especially before lying down? I had it bad when I was pregnant with #2.

I had a very bad cold right around my due date with #3. I was coughing so hard all day and night. When I was in labor, I was coughing between contractions. I was still able to deliver w/o meds. All of my coughing on the baby after he was born didn't get him sick either.

That is ridiculous that your OB wouldn't treat you if you didn't get the flu shot. That seems pretty unprofessional to me, since the flu shot is not something vital to your baby's survival and well-being.

Good luck to you. Hopefully, you'll start feeling better soon.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I'm so sorry this is happening to you. Definitely report it to vaers and see what can be done to treat it. I'd switch obs as well, and vitamin d helps with the flu and overall wellness. The flu shot caused my grandmothers pneumonia and death within two weeks, sharp decline from the day she got it. Cant tell me otherwise! I watched it happen and it ruined our lives. No more flu shots for you, none ever for my family! Hope you feel better soon, sorry this is happening during one of the best times of your life.

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answers from Boca Raton on

It would not suprise me if there was a connection. And it also would not surprise me if your health care professionals deny - all day long - that there might be. And there may *not* be a connection either. You'll probably never know.

I'm not sure what you can do now, other than really rest and take care of yourself. Worrying excessively (which seems to suppress my immune system) probably won't help much.

Good luck, and I hope you feel better very soon. Will pray for you and your baby! Try to get lots of rest!

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answers from Washington DC on

the flu shot was not the reason for the cough you have. it could have been the catalyst - but not the reason.

has your Pulmonologist checked or tested you for Pleurisy, asthma/allergies, pneumonia, COPD or any other lung diseases?

what did the Pulmonologist tell you? what did he test you for? you stated he didn't like the functionality of your lungs...that could mean MANY things...

I understand you are scared for the baby. I would go back to the pulmonologist and get tested again and get to the bottom of it.

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answers from Detroit on

I realize you can't go back, but yes you should have gone with your gut feeling and not get the shot and switch OB's.

Something that is natural and will tremendously help, is probiotics, which is the good bacteria for our body. It is not a vitamin, not an herb and is only good for you and the baby.

The one I use is Optiflora. It is a pearl size pill and has a special coating so that stomach acids don't dissolve it and it gets to the lower intestine where predominantly the bad bacteria resides.

I know many pregnant women who take this product and have had great success without getting sick.

If you want to know more, shoot me an email.

Also, taking vitamin C, Vitamin E, and a multi-vitamin will help.

If you are taking a prenatal vitamin, to ensure it is getting absorbed into your body put it in a half cup of room temperature water. If it doesn't dissolve in 30 minutes or less, it is not being absorbed into your body. This is true for any multivitamin.

I hope this helps.

Many blessings.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I've gone back and forth on this... worked at a hospital and so was required each year to get one for about five years in a row. Have had one a few other times. The only symptom I have had was a hot arm... like where the shot was injected, had a fever. Weird.... But can't say anything similar to what you are experiencing. I can't say if it helped or didn't help me get the flu. I am rarely sick besides terrible migraines which seem to have lessened since I lost weight.
I agree with Pam E. Sounds like a coincidence. You had such a strong emotional reaction to the shot, it could be psychological though your symptoms may be totally real and there may be another something going on... I would get a second opinion from and actual Internal Medicine Doctor that could at least give you a third opinion. I know when you are pregnant things feel all messed up sometimes... but you know, you said you have had kids before... I think that our bodys let us know when things are not right and it is good to follow through. I am sure you googled already but here are some sites that might enlighten you a bit more. Good luck honey... let us know how you are doing! God bless.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Why would a persistent cough be part of a flu shot? Especially since it hasn't gone away yet. I am sure its not related. If their would be any relation, you got if from the premise where you got the shot. This sounds like maybe an infection.

My second pregnancy, I developed gestational Asthma. It was so hard to breath when I had coughing spells they put me on Advair. That stuff made me sick so I sparingly used it. I was sick 6 of the 9 months. Was still sick afterwards for a few month. Fine now. When we are pregnant our immune system is lowered intentionally to protect the baby. Our bodies are constantly fighting against a baby because it recognizes it as a foreign entity. So you are susceptible through out your pregnancy. You are a very health person, but your getting older. 30 is the time your body is in decline for reproduction. So you dodge the bullet two times. The third got ya. I would continue with the Pulminologist. I had a flu shot with all 3 of my kids. Never once go so much as a sniffle, and never got the flu either.

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answers from Detroit on

Several years ago, I had a similar coughing incident. I went to my PCP numerous times, was referred to others numerous times and had several theories thrown at me - reflux, asthma (with no history), general allergies. My coughing resulted in 2 cracked ribs, near the side back, like something was tearing sharply tearing when I coughed, and then I couldn't catch my breath.
After 4 months I demanded to be referred out of my system and saw the head of the clinic. Two days after starting steroids I stopped coughing. The final diagnosis was allergies - I had moved into an apartment that triggered severe allergies for me from the surrounding units and the former tenants. Did you have any environmental changes around the time it started?
What did help during the duration was a belt that "held my insides in" during the coughing fits. It was somewhat like a maternity belt but was worn high around the rib cage to offer support during the explosive expulsion of the cough.
I cannot imagine having this while pregnant...oh, and an inhaler helps calm the lungs....not sure why they'd say it would cause a cough. I'm sending healing thoughts for a quick recovery and easy labor.



answers from Detroit on

I believe that shot could have something to do with your issue. Docs do not always have the answer. If I were you I would go see the group at The Alternative Healthcare Center in Grosse Pointe. They are Chiropractor/Clinical Nutritionists that are AMAZING! It would be well worth a trip!
Also, I know 2 excellent OB/GYNs in Grosse Pointe...my sister's sister-in-laws that MIGHT take on a new patient this late in the pregnancy. Send me a message if you would like their names.


answers from Norfolk on

You do feel the shot caused this.
That's why you're angry - you think this was preventable/avoidable.
If you hadn't had the shot you'd still be sick and you'd have nothing on which to focus blame/anger.
Coughing is tough enough when you're not pregnant (I had a cough a few years ago that lasted 8 weeks - saw a Dr and it wasn't flu, bronchitis, whooping cough or pneumonia - it was just a really stubborn cough) and it's miserable when you are pregnant.
If being angry makes you feel better then go ahead and stay angry.
But if being angry is draining your energy then it's time to let it go.
If your 7 months along, you've got 2 months to get well and you should be fine by the time you go into labor.

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