(Salt Lake City, UT) – Flu season is here, which may pose potential problems for moms-to-be. Pregnant women are at a higher risk for serious complications from influenza (flu), which may require medical treatment including hospitalizations.
The Utah Department of Health (UDOH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization all recommend the flu vaccine for any woman considering a pregnancy and for all women who are pregnant this flu season.
Beth Vukin, M.D., pediatrician with Primary Children’s Medical Center, understands the importance of getting a flu shot every year as new strains of the virus are added to the vaccine every year. This year is especially important to Dr. Vukin, who is now 14 weeks pregnant.
“Due to my pregnancy, I am at a higher risk of getting the flu and, if I do get the flu, I am at higher risk for having severe consequences. I work with children with the flu all the time and have seen first-hand the consequences in infants. I got the vaccine to protect myself, but also to protect my baby.”
“The flu vaccine is like a gift that keeps on giving,” says Al Romeo, PhD and nurse with the UDOH Pregnancy Risk Line (PRL). “Because an infant under six months of age cannot get the vaccine, the baby relies on the antibodies that he or she gets from mom during pregnancy. These antibodies last several months after birth, and even longer when a mother breastfeeds.”
Romeo says he has been alarmed at the number of pregnant women who are calling the Pregnancy Risk Line this year, indicating they will not be getting the flu vaccine. His response is to reassure moms that the flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy and that getting protected from the flu is the one of the healthiest activities a mom can do for herself and her baby this season.
For more information about the flu vaccine and the safety of medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding, contact the Pregnancy Risk Line at 800-822-2229 (BABY).
The PRL is a free service for Utah families and health care providers and has been answering questions about the effects of medicines, chemicals and other maternal exposures on a developing fetus or breastfed baby for nearly 30 years.
UDOH Pregnancy Risk Line