Pregnant? Your Flu Vaccine Due Date Is Now
December 4, 2012
Washington, DC -- With the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting an earlier and harder-hitting flu season, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College) reminds women who are or will become pregnant during the annual flu season (October through May) to get the flu vaccine.
The CDC recommends that everyone ages six months and older be vaccinated against the flu. According to the CDC, roughly 5% to 20% of the US population gets the seasonal flu each year. Over the last 30 years, annual flu-related deaths have ranged from a low of 3,000 to a high of 49,000. Certain groups—including pregnant women, young children, and the elderly—are at increased risk for serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, various infections, and dehydration.
An essential element of prenatal care, the flu vaccination is recommended for all pregnant women, regardless of trimester. Annual flu vaccination is especially critical during pregnancy because it protects both pregnant women and their fetuses. Babies cannot be vaccinated against the flu until they are six months old, but they receive antibodies from their mother that help protect them until they can be vaccinated. Women can also receive the flu vaccine postpartum and while they are breastfeeding.
Vaccination early in the flu season is optimal, but it can be given at any time during the flu season and at any stage of pregnancy. The live attenuated version of the flu vaccine (the nasal spray) should not be given to pregnant women.
Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe and include fever, cough, sore throat, body and muscle aches, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, fatigue, and nausea and vomiting (most common in young children).
It is National Influenza Vaccination Week. For more information on pregnancy and the flu vaccine, visit The College’s immunization website.
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Laura E. Riley, MD, is chair of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Immunization Expert Work Group. Dr. Riley is director of Labor and Delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 56,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. www.acog.org