Las Vegas, Nev. (September 29, 2016) – The flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. This is because changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make women (and women up to two weeks postpartum) more prone to severe illness from flu, as well as to hospitalizations and even death. Pregnant women with flu also have a greater chance for serious problems for their developing baby, including premature labor and delivery.
“The flu vaccine can literally save your life or the life of someone you love. Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but also those in our community who are vulnerable — like children and seniors,” said Immunize Nevada Executive Director Heidi Parker. “The first and most important step pregnant women can take to protect themselves and their baby, is to get a flu shot. It will even protect the infant for several months after birth.”
The risk of premature labor and delivery increases when pregnant women get the flu, and there is a greater chance of their babies having birth defects. Flu shots are a safe way to protect the mother and her developing baby from serious illness and complications from flu. The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years, and flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies.
In addition to getting the flu shot, pregnant women should take additional everyday preventive actions, including covering coughs with the inside of the elbow (not the hand), washing hands often, and avoiding people who are sick.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
If you get sick with flu symptoms call your doctor right away. There are prescription antiviral drugs that can treat flu illness and prevent serious flu complications. CDC recommends that pregnant women with flu symptoms be treated with these drugs.
Having a fever caused by flu infection or other infections early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects in a baby. Pregnant women who get a fever should treat their fever with Tylenol® (or store brand equivalent) and contact their doctor as soon as possible.
When to Seek Emergency Medical Care
If you’re pregnant and have any of these signs, call 911 right away:
For details about flu vaccine, statistics, logic, flu prevention strategies and vaccination clinics, follow Immunize Nevada on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Or visit www.influencenevada.org for more information.
Immunize Nevada is widely recognized as Nevada’s trusted resource for immunizations and community health for all ages by fostering education and statewide collaboration. Immunize Nevada’s vision is healthy communities across Nevada protected from vaccine-preventable disease. For more information, visit ImmunizeNevada.org.