Health and Family Services Cabinet
Pregnant Women Urged to Get a Flu Vaccination
Pregnant Women Urged to Get
a Flu Vaccination
Flu more likely to cause severe illness in
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
“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.