Doctors urge pregnant women to get flu shot

When it comes to the flu, mommy's-to-be are especially vulnerable to infection.  With so many changes going on inside the body, doctors say a woman's immune system isn't as strong during pregnancy.

"For pregnant patients, especially in their second and third trimesters they're at an increased risk for both morbidity- meaning their symptoms can be worse and lead to other illnesses like pneumonia- and mortality which is actually death," said OB-GYN Dr. Terri Thomas.

However, many women still hesitate to get the flu shot while pregnant, even though doctors say any risk is minimal and greatly overshadowed by the benefits.

"It's definitely an uphill battle for us as healthcare providers to try and convince patients to get the flu vaccine," said Thomas.

With vaccines, there are always questions, concerns and misconceptions. However, the overwhelming opinion of medical experts is that getting a flu shot is best for the mother's health and that of the baby.

The Centers for Disease Control, The March of Dimes, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all recommend the flu shot for pregnant patients, saying the flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect against the virus.  Getting a flu shot also protects newborns whose immune system is not fully developed.

"They're primary care givers are those that they come into contact with the most. So, it's important for those people not to transmit the flu to the infant," said Thomas.

Doctors also strongly recommend vaccine for every primary caregiver of a newborn.

All parishes in Louisiana are reporting flu activity with the CDC reporting that Louisiana has high activity overall.

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