CDC urges expectant mothers to get flu shot

Flu season here early; CDC encouraging expecting mothers to get vaccination

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s flu season and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is urging expecting mothers to take precautions and get vaccinated.

One doctor says parents shouldn’t be worried about the vaccine itself, but more so what could happen if you don’t get the shot.

It’s only natural for an expecting mom to be concerned at the sign of a sneeze or cough.

“I immediately start looking. Okay, are we running fever? Are you tired?” said Brytanni Weems, an expecting mother.

An sign of illness sends Weems into a frenzy. That’s because she’s expecting baby number three.

“In pregnancy, I try to wash my hands, make sure that I avoid anybody who’s sick. I try to limit my shopping,” Weems said.

Being pregnant has its own set of worries, but add a potentially life threatening illness like the flu into the mix and Weems becomes an advocate for flu shots.

“Definitely, definitely. Not only for myself and my baby, but I do have two smaller children that I wouldn’t want them to get sick,” said Weems.

Dr. Terrie Thomas says it’s a common misconception that pregnant women shouldn’t get vaccinated.

“Pregnant women are incredibly more likely to end up in the hospital as a result of getting the flu and they are more likely to get other illnesses like pneumonia,” said Dr. Terri Thomas.

It could be a matter of life and death. She tells her patients the flu itself is much more dangerous than any flu-like symptoms you may get after the vaccine.

“Pregnant mothers that get the flu vaccine are 40% less likely to end up in the hospital and the really important thing is that they pass immunity to their babies while they’re pregnant,” Dr. Thomas emphasized. “Babies, newborn babies of pregnant moms are 80% less likely to be hospitalized after birth because of flu and flu-like illnesses.”

Health experts say expectant mothers have a weakened immune system. According to the CDC, babies under 6-months-old have the “highest incidence of influenza-associated hospitalizations among children.”

“The other important thing about getting the flu vaccine in pregnancy is for your baby. That’s the key,” Dr. Thomas said.

There are certain challenges to treating pregnant women with the flu since it’s two patients instead of one, so Dr. Thomas says prevention is always better than planning treatment.

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