Importance of Influenza Vaccine in Pregnancy
The annual flu season in this country typically runs from October to May. Women who are pregnant during this time are strongly encouraged to receive their annual influenza vaccine.
Pregnancy alters a woman’s immune system, making her more sensitive to the flu. Having the flu during pregnancy creates health risks for your unborn baby and increases the chances of premature labor and delivery. The high fevers associated with the flu can also lead to birth defects.
Being pregnant is no excuse to skip your flu shot. By getting the influenza vaccine in pregnancy, a mother can transfer the antibodies to her baby. This protection can be further extended by breastfeeding the baby after birth.
Use of the inactivated influenza vaccine has not been shown to produce any adverse reactions in pregnancy and offers important protection against the flu. Administration of the inactive influenza vaccine in pregnancy is advised by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Getting the Flu During Pregnancy
No vaccine offers a 100 percent guarantee against disease. Seasonal influenza vaccines contain antibodies against the viruses most likely to be present during the current flu season. Additional viruses may surface that are not covered in the vaccine, which means you could still get the flu.
Symptoms of the flu include:
- Fever of 1000F or higher
- Sore throat
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Nausea and vomiting
If you are pregnant and experience flu-like symptoms, contact your obstetrician right away. After evaluation, if your doctor determines you have contracted a case of the flu, antiviral medications may be prescribed to reduce severity.
Relieving Symptoms of Influenza in Pregnancy
Even though you are pregnant, there are some ways to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of influenza. Always check with your OB/GYN before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication. Non-medical comfort measures include:
- Drink lots of fluids
- Sponge your body with a cool, damp washcloth
- Use a room humidifier to increase moisture
- Gargle with salt water