Flu Shots for Pregnant Women

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It's flu season and the peak time to get the flu shot if you want to protect yourself through the winter and spring.  But should pregnant women get the shot? In this Healthcast, we have the answer.

For pregnant women, there are many things they can't do during their pregnancy to keep their unborn child healthy. But one thing they can and should do now is get a flu shot.  Dr. Brad Forsythe, an OB-GYN at OBG-1 in Lake Charles says,"There's some alterations in their immune functions, also because they have some increase in some of their cardiac and pulmonary physiology like increased heart rate, increased oxygen consumption, that places them at a higher risk of not only contracting the flu, but also being hospitalized."

During a typical flu season, about 20 percent of the population can catch the flu.  Of this, about 225,000 people will be hospitalized and there are over 36,000 deaths as a result of the influenza virus each year.

Getting a flu shot during pregnancy can protect the mom's weakened immune system and offer the baby some protection after birth.  "Pregnant women who get the flu shot can decrease their baby's risk for developing a respiratory illness with a fever in the first year of life by up to 30 percent," says Dr. Forsythe.

Samantha Rider is 7 1/2 months pregnant.  After coming down with a high fever last month, she's doing everything she can now to prevent sickness to herself and her unborn son.  In this pre-natal check-up, Samantha is getting a flu shot.

"It's hard to voluntarily do something that you know is a shot, something that's going to hurt or could hurt," says Samantha, "could possibly make you sore, make you sick...and on the flip side of that, that's kind of a reason to get the flu vaccination, because even if you do run a little low-grade temperature, it's a lot better than if you actually get the full-blown flu."

After a quick prep and prick, it's over...and mom and baby will be protected this flu season.

*Typical side effects of the flu shot include redness and irritation, soreness at the site of the injection and then some muscle aches and a low-grade fever, usually for the first two days after the injection.