Flu season is upon us again! As we enter the time of year when many of us are at increased risk for sickness, it’s important for obstetricians–gynecologists and providers to take stock of what we can do to protect ourselves, our patients, and our patients’ families. Now is the time to understand the importance of preventing and treating the flu and learn how best to treat your patients.
It’s always crucial that we protect our patients however possible—but during this time of year, it’s especially important that we protect our pregnant patients, who are at increased risk of severe disease, complications, and hospitalization related to the flu. Those risks are especially compounded for pregnant women with any underlying conditions. As obstetricians—gynecologists, we’re in a unique position to help drive home the importance of flu vaccinations—and to provide crucial assessment and treatment when need be. In order to best serve our patients during this flu season, we need to be ready to address the issue of the flu from all angles.
So what can obstetricians—gynecologists do to make sure we’re prepared to protect our patients?
- Recommend—and, when feasible, offer—flu vaccination to all patients, particularly those who are pregnant. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older.
- Lead by example and get vaccinated ourselves
- Encourage our colleagues and staff to get vaccinated
- Be prepared to assess and treat pregnant patients who present to us with suspected or confirmed influenza
ACOG has prepared resources to help you take these steps. ACOG’s Committee Opinion Number 732: Influenza Vaccination During Pregnancy outlines the recommendations for vaccinating your patients and provides important safety and efficacy information. Committee Opinion Number 753: Assessment and Treatment of Pregnant Women with Suspected or Confirmed Influenza, published this October, features an algorithm that will help providers assess pregnant patients for symptoms of influenza and determine the proper treatment of suspected or confirmed cases. Additionally, ACOG has resources to help you educate your patients on the importance and benefits of getting the flu vaccine and prepare yourself to answer any questions your patients may have about the flu or the flu vaccine.
As providers, we’re responsible for not only doing our best to prevent the risk of contracting the flu but also recognizing flu symptoms, assessing their severity, and prescribing safe and effective antiviral therapy for pregnant women with the flu. With ACOG’s flu resources, providers can make sure they’re prepared to defend against the flu on all fronts. Protect women and their families this flu season by encouraging your patients and staff to get vaccinated against the flu and doing so yourself.