How the Flu Vaccine Helps Protect Your Pregnancy and Your Nursing Baby
Influenza and influenza-like illness activity levels are high across the state of Florida and the nation as a whole. The flu vaccine helps protect your pregnancy and your nursing baby.
Florida is currently experiencing a moderately severe influenza season with more visits to emergency departments from pregnant women, increased admissions for flu, and higher outbreaks reported to the Florida Department of Health than in the past few years.
Influenza is five times more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant.
Elevated flu activity is expected for several more weeks. The Department of Health recommends that people who are able to get vaccinated do so as soon as possible. At Fertility CARE: The IVF Center, Dr. Trolice and the staff encourage all of our pregnant and postpartum patients to get their flu vaccinations if they haven’t already done so.
The flu poses particular risks to pregnant and postpartum women including:
- Changes in immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy increase the risk of severe complications from influenza infection
- Pregnant women with underlying health conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from influenza compared to their healthy counterparts
- Influenza infections also increase the risk for premature labor and delivery
The Benefits of the Flu Vaccine for Your Pregnancy
Inactivated influenza vaccines are safe and offer the best protection for pregnant women and their fetuses. Postpartum women, including those who are breastfeeding, can safely receive the vaccine.
According to the Department of Health, vaccination can be performed safely at any time during a pregnancy. Vaccination during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her infant (up to 6 months of age) from influenza illness, influenza hospitalizations, and influenza-related preterm birth.
A recent population-based study concluded that those mothers who received seasonal trivalent influenza vaccine were significantly less likely to experience stillbirth compared to unvaccinated mothers.
Treating Influenza: Protect Your Family
Pregnant or postpartum women who have been diagnosed with the flu or think they might have it should seek early treatment as soon as possible. Antiviral treatment is recommended as the most effective means of healing pregnant or postpartum women with confirmed or suspected influenza. Delayed antiviral treatment (longer than two days) has been associated with increased risk of severe illness (such as hospitalization and death).
A recent health advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stressed the importance of rapid and early antiviral treatment. Postpartum women and caretakers of children under six months of age should get vaccinated against influenza to protect against transmission of influenza to children too young to be vaccinated. Children can often be the source of infection for influenza among pregnant women and their infants.
By getting yourself vaccinated, you play a crucial role in helping to prevent influenza and its severe complications to others. If you want to get a flu shot but don’t know where to go, please visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/findaflushot to locate the nearest vaccination center near you.
More information about the flu and influenza vaccine can be found at:
- Centers for Disease Control: Seasonal Vaccination Resources
- Centers for Disease Control – Pregnant Women.