Pregnant Women Should Get a Flu Vaccine
Pregnancy can increase the risk for complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, making it even more important for expectant mothers to get a flu vaccine.
In fact, pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized from complications of the flu than non-pregnant women of the same age. For this reason, as well as other health concerns, officials from the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) urge expecting mothers to get a flu vaccine before the onset of the peak flu season, which typically occurs in Kentucky in February or March.
"Pregnancy can change the mother's immune system, as well as affect her heart and lungs," said Dr. William Hacker, Health and Family Services' acting undersecretary for health and public health commissioner. "These changes may place pregnant women at increased risk for complications from the flu. Contracting the flu virus during pregnancy may also cause an increase in the rate of miscarriage."
In 2004, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that women who are or become pregnant during the flu season should receive a flu shot. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agrees with this recommendation.
"Leading health officials agree that the flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy and for breastfeeding mothers,"Hacker said. ''The Kentucky Department for Public Health urges pregnant women to get vaccinated either at their local health department or their health care provider."
DPH reports that pregnant women who are expected to deliver during flu season should be vaccinated because they will be household contacts of their newborn (the vaccine is not recommended for infants 6 months of age or younger). Vaccination of the mother and all other household contacts before birth is the most effective measure to prevent viral infection of flu in infants less than 6 months old.