Pregnant Women Need Flu Vaccine
Edina, MN, September 07, 2012
Getting a flu shot during pregnancy protects the mom-to-be from what could be a very serious – even fatal – illness and can protect her newborn who is too young to receive his or her own immunization.
All pregnant women should be immunized to protect themselves and their babies, the March of Dimes says, because the normal changes to a pregnant woman’s immune system, heart and lungs put moms-to-be at increased risk of the harmful effects of flu infection.
“The flu vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective. As an added bonus, during pregnancy, mothers pass on their immunity, protecting babies in those early months of life,” said Marianne Keuhn, March of Dimes Minnesota State Director of Programs and Public Affairs. “We urge all pregnant women, and women who expect to become pregnant, to get their influenza immunization because the flu poses a serious risk of illness and even death during pregnancy.”
Cases of H3N2v (swine flu) have also been reported in Minnesota this year. Pregnant women and children under 5 should avoid situations where they could be exposed to swine. For the latest on health advisories, check with the
Pregnancy increases the risk of complications of flu, such as bacterial pneumonia and dehydration, which can be serious and even fatal. Pregnancy also can change a woman’s immune system, as well as affect her heart and lungs. Getting vaccinated at any time during pregnancy is the best way pregnant women can protect themselves and their babies from the flu.
Research published in PLoS Medicine in 2011 also found that getting a flu shot during pregnancy may offer some protection from having a premature or low birth weight baby. The study looked at births in Georgia from 2004 to 2006 and found that pregnant women who received the flu vaccine and who gave birth during the October through May flu season were 40 percent less likely to have a baby born too soon.
In addition to vaccination, women can lower their risk of becoming infected by observing these common healthy practices:
- Stay at home if you’re sick
- Limit contact with others, especially children or people who are sick
- Don’t kiss anyone on or around the mouth
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your arm
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly
- Use hand sanitizers when in offices, public places, etc
- Thoroughly wash dishes and eating utensils
- Don’t share dishes, utensils, glasses or toothbrush.
Also, those who live with pregnant women or young children, or are in close contact with them, should be immunized. Pregnant women who develop flu-like symptoms should quickly contact their health care provider so that they can begin treatment immediately.