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Pregnant women urged to get a flu vaccination

Flu risks higher for pregnant women 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 13, 2014) — With winter on the horizon and the peak flu season a few months away—in February and March—the Kentucky Department for Public Health is urging pregnant women to get flu shots.

Vaccination protection influenzaPregnancy can increase the risk for complications from influenza (flu), such as pneumonia, making it even more important for expectant mothers to get a flu vaccination.

Pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized from complications of the flu than non-pregnant women of the same age.

“Pregnancy changes the mother’s immune system, as well as affecting her heart and lungs,” said Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, commissioner of DPH. “These changes may place pregnant women at increased risk for complications from the flu as well as hospitalizations and even death. Contracting the flu virus during pregnancy may also cause an increase in serious problems for their unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women who are or become pregnant during the flu season should receive an inactivated flu vaccine. It can be given to pregnant women at any point during their pregnancy.

Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches. Flu is a very contagious disease caused by the influenza virus, which spreads from person to person through contact with infected nasal and oral secretions. While vaccine supplies are expected to be ample this season, DPH advises individuals to call ahead to check with their health care provider, local health department or pharmacy about the availability of flu vaccine.

More information on flu can be found at http://healthalerts.ky.gov.