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Flu for Two? Protect Your Unborn Baby This Flu Season!

By Brent W. Bost, MD, MBA, CPH, FACOG, OB Hospitalists of Texas

During cold and flu season, the influenza and Tdap vaccines pull double duty to protect mothers and babies from preventable diseases that are common around this time of year. In my 30 years as an Ob/Gyn I have seen too many moms suffer unnecessarily with the flu during and around pregnancy – and sadly, both baby and mom are more likely to die from the flu than other people. Changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women (and women up to two weeks after delivery) more prone to severe illness from the flu. Flu also may be harmful for a pregnant woman’s developing baby. A common flu symptom is fever, which may be associated with neural tube defects (like spina bifida) and other adverse outcomes for a developing baby. Getting vaccinated can also help protect a baby from the flu for several weeks after birth. (Mom passes antibodies onto the developing baby during her pregnancy.) Vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant women by up to one-half. And, there’s a lot of research that shows flu vaccine is absolutely safe in pregnancy. (There used to be a flu vaccine with LIVE virus in it. This is a non-no for pregnant women! Good news – that vaccine is no longer available, so the only flu vaccine you can get now days is safe!) I want to warn you. There’s a lot of foolish talk out there that vaccines are harmful. This is simply not so. Believe me (and my pediatrician colleagues) – if vaccines were dangerous, nobody could hide that fact from us! And, we certainly wouldn’t hide that fact from you. I’m certain that the “anti-vaccinators” are motivated by the highest intentions. However, they are simply uninformed. My advice – feel sorry for them and pray that they don’t get too sick being foolish, THEN GO GET YOUR FLU SHOT! You can read more about the flu shot and pregnancy at this link: Good luck and cover that cough!! Photo by John Looy on Unsplash


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