The College also recommends flu vaccination for all pregnant women, regardless of trimester. Preventing flu during pregnancy is an essential element of prenatal care, and it is imperative that physicians, health care organizations, and public health officials improve their efforts to increase immunization rates among pregnant women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 5-20% of the US population gets the seasonal flu each year. Over the last 30 years, annual flu-related deaths have ranged from a low of 3,000 to a high of 49,000. Certain groups—including pregnant women, young children, and the elderly—are at increased risk for serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, various infections, and dehydration.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include fever, cough, sore throat, body and muscle aches, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, fatigue, and nausea and vomiting (most common in young children). The best way to combat the flu and its symptoms is to avoid it altogether through annual immunization.
The CDC recommends that all people aged six months and older be vaccinated against the flu. Annual flu vaccination is especially critical for pregnant women because it performs double duty by protecting both pregnant women and their fetuses. Babies cannot be vaccinated against the flu until they are six months old, but they receive antibodies from their mother that help protect them until they can be vaccinated.
Vaccination early in the flu season is optimal, but it can be given at any time during the flu season and at any stage of pregnancy. The College advises that all women who are or become pregnant during the annual flu season (October through May) get the inactivated flu vaccine. The live attenuated version of the flu vaccine (the nasal mist) should not be given to pregnant women. Women can also receive the flu vaccine postpartum and while they are breastfeeding if they missed it during pregnancy.
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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 55,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. www.acog.org