The CDC recommends all persons age 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine. Flu season looks to be off to an early start here in the tristate area and it takes about two weeks to build a good immune response after vaccination. If you are pregnant and have not received your vaccine yet, it is important to do so, and soon.
Pregnant women are at an increased risk of severe illness, flu-related hospitalization and even death. Changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women (and women up to two weeks after delivery) more prone to severe illness from flu. Vaccination have been shown to reduce the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant women by up to 50%. In fact, although the flu vaccine isn’t always as effective at preventing actual flu, recent research has shown that there is a significant reduction for vaccinated adults age 18-49 in their chance of being hospitalized in an ICU from flu complications, compared to unvaccinated adults.
Flu also may be harmful for a pregnant woman’s developing baby. Fever, a common flu symptom, may be associated with neural tube defects and other adverse outcomes for a developing baby. Getting vaccinated can also help protect a baby after birth from flu. (Mom passes antibodies onto her baby during pregnancy.) This protection can last for several months after birth, when babies are too young to get vaccinated.
Flu vaccines are both safe and important during any stage of pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about getting yours. Vaccines are also readily available at many area pharmacies and public health departments.