Flu Vaccine Protects Pregnant Women and Their Babies – Even After They’re Born

Reno, NV (December 10, 2014) – Pregnant women are strongly advised to get the flu vaccine as it protects them and their unborn child even after it’s born. And, as flu vaccines are not advised for children under 6 months old, this could be the only protection a newborn infant gets from the potentially life-threatening influenza

The Centers for Disease Control reports that, “Vaccination helps protect women during pregnancy and their babies for up to six months after they are born. One study showed that giving flu vaccine to pregnant women was 92 percent effective in preventing hospitalization of infants for flu.”

The Mayo Clinic says that a flu shot during pregnancy is essential. “Pregnancy puts extra stress on your heart and lungs. Pregnancy can also affect your immune system. These factors increase the risk of becoming severely ill due to the flu.” It adds that flu vaccine prevents potential pregnancy problems due to the flu. “Flu during pregnancy seems to increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight. In a recent study, babies whose mothers had a flu shot during pregnancy were nearly 50 percent less likely to be hospitalized with the flu during their first flu season than were babies of unvaccinated mothers.”

“All of the scientific evidence makes it very clear that it’s especially important for pregnant women to get flu shots, for themselves and their unborn child,” explained Immunize Nevada Executive Director Heidi Parker. “And when there are other children in the home it becomes even more important for everyone involved, as there are more opportunities to spread the germs that cause the flu.”

Some women might be hesitant to take the flu vaccine because they’re pregnant, but the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology has reported that the flu shot is safe for pregnant mothers and that there is no increased risk of adverse effects for those who are vaccinated. In fact, the flu vaccination has been associated with improved fetal and neonatal outcomes, according to the American Journal of Public Health.  And the Journal of American Medical Association has reported that the flu vaccination may also reduce children’s risk of other conditions, such as bipolar disorder, associated with exposure to gestational influenza.

Each year, an estimated 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu, with more than 200,000 people finding themselves hospitalized, missing work and unable to recover quickly. The CDC estimates that flu kills between 3,000 and 49,000 people each year, including many young, perfectly healthy people.

The flu vaccination is the best protection against the flu, followed by frequent hand washing, coughing into elbows (not hands), disinfecting germ hot spots, eating right, exercising and getting plenty of sleep to help boost the body’s ability to fight the effects of colds and the flu.

More information, including the “Flu Vaccine Finder” is available at www.influencenevada.org/healthcare-providers.

Immunize Nevada exists to support community partners to successfully implement effective immunization efforts throughout Nevada; advocate for, inform and educate about the need for and benefits of vaccines; and facilitate greater collaboration statewide to achieve Nevada’s immunization priorities. Through outreach, advocacy and education, Immunize Nevada will create a pro-immunization environment that results in a dramatic increase in immunization rates to exceed the national average by 2020. For more information, visit ImmunizeNevada.org


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