Physicians with The Methodist Hospital in Houston say pregnant women are already at higher risk of developing severe health problems during flu season, so they should remain vigilant.
“We don’t want pregnant women to have undue concern about this virus, but we do want them to take the necessary precautions, just like they would do for any flu season,” said Dr. Keith Reeves, Ob/Gyn at Methodist. “They should be vaccinated.”
A recent CDC report showed that pregnant women are more likely than the general population to develop severe disease after infection with the H1N1 swine flu virus. Reeves also ?wants pregnant women to know that anti-viral drugs like tamiflu have proven to be safe in women.
“The benefits far outweigh the risks, and we know for a fact that these drugs work better when started within two days of the first flu symptoms.”
The H1N1 virus is a new strain of flu that is the result of a mutation of the genetic material of several flu viruses.
In addition to pregnant women, other high-risk groups that will likely be on the list for the new vaccine include:
- People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age;
- Health care and emergency services personnel;
- Persons between the ages of 6 months through 24 years of age; and
- People from ages 25 through 64 years who are at higher risk for H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
The groups listed above comprise nearly half the population of the United States. Experts note that once high-risk patients have been vaccinated, the vaccine distribution will be expanded to everyone, including adults over 65.
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