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Pregnant Women Urged to Get a Flu Vaccination

Press Release Date:  Thursday, November 13, 2014  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Barbara Fox,
(502) 564-6786, ext. 3100 or 3102
 


Pregnant Women Urged to Get a Flu Vaccination

Flu more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women 

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 13, 2014) Pregnancy can increase the risk for complications from influenza (flu), such as pneumonia, making it even more important for expectant mothers to get a flu vaccination.

 

In fact, pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized from complications of the flu than non-pregnant women of the same age. For this reason, as well as other health concerns, officials from the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) urge pregnant women to be immunized against the flu before the upcoming holidays and before onset of the peak flu season, which typically occurs in Kentucky in February or March.

"Pregnancy changes the mother’s immune system, as well as affecting her heart and lungs,” said Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, commissioner of DPH. “These changes may place pregnant women at increased risk for complications from the flu as well as hospitalizations and even death. Contracting the flu virus during pregnancy may also cause an increase in serious problems for their unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women who are or become pregnant during the flu season should receive an inactivated flu vaccine. It can be given to pregnant women at any point during their pregnancy.

“Leading health officials agree that the flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy and for breastfeeding mothers,” Dr. Mayfield said. “The Kentucky Department for Public Health urges all pregnant women to get vaccinated against the flu.”

Immunizing the mother during pregnancy also has the added benefit of protecting her newborn. Immune antibodies are passed across the placenta before delivery, which could help to protect the infant during the first months after delivery, as the vaccine is not recommended for infants younger than six months of age.   

“Vaccinating pregnant women protects mothers, their unborn babies and their babies after birth,” said Dr. Mayfield. “Vaccination of the mother and all other household contacts before birth is the most effective measure to prevent flu infection in infants less than six months old.”

Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches. Flu is a very contagious disease caused by the influenza virus, which spreads from person to person through contact with infected nasal and oral secretions. While vaccine supplies are expected to be ample this season, DPH advises individuals to call ahead to check with their health care provider, local health department or pharmacy about the availability of flu vaccine. More information on flu can be found at http://healthalerts.ky.gov.

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Last Updated 11/13/2014