We’re getting into the heart of the flu season -- and the World Health Organization says pregnant women are a priority when it comes to getting the vaccine.
Health experts believe pregnant women are especially vulnerable because their immune systems are taxed by the growing fetus. The flu can make them very sick and even cause death. It can also lead to premature births and birth defects.
The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women, as long as it’s the dead vaccine. Flu shots contain the dead virus. Nasal spray flu vaccines contain the live virus, which is why the spray should never be administered to pregnant women, or those who plan to be.
In addition to the obvious preventative advantages, the flu shot can benefit newborns up to 6 months of age. They’re getting protection from their mother if she’s been inoculated against influenza.
Pregnant women should be aware of flu symptoms which include fever, chills, body aches, coughing, runny nose and fatigue. They should consult their doctor without delay if any of these symptoms lasts for more than a couple of days. If they have trouble breathing, chest pressure, confusion, vomiting or a sense that their baby is not moving, emergency action may be in order.
The flu season began in October, and usually ends in May. It peaks in January and February.
Everyone 6 months or older is urged to get a flu shot every year. It’s best to consult your doctor if you have any questions about whether it is right for you.