Vaccine For Flu Prevention
Flu During Pregnancy
• Is Influenza a Problem While Pregnant?
|Is Influenza a Problem?
The immune system of pregnant women is naturally suppressed, which makes them more vulnerable to catching colds and flu’s. If they catch flu, they are statistically more likely to develop complications such as pneumonia, breathing difficulties and dehydration. Also, as the immune system is suppressed, symptoms are likely to last longer.
Avoid taking any over the counter medications in the first pregnancy trimester or after week 38 without consulting your Ob gyn. Between these times, use medications sparingly and always tell the pharmacist you are pregnant. Generally, the following medications are safe to use between weeks 13 - 37:
Increase your fluid intake by up to 10 glasses of water a day. If you have problems drinking water, fruit juices are an alternative. Monitor your temperature, if it goes above 38C/100.4F, contact your doctor. Also talk to your healthcare advisor if you experience persistent chest pain, shortness of breath or severe sore throat.
A cold, even a nasty one, is still milder than the flu. Symptoms of a cold usually include a sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, coughing mild fatigue and aches. Usually there is little or no fever. The flu or influenza is more severe and can appear quite suddenly. The main symptom of flu is fever, usually 38.8C to 40C. You may still have cold symptoms such as, sore throat, runny nose, weakness and fatigue, but symptoms are more severe. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, headaches and diarrhea.
Yes, in fact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend it for pregnant women. During any flu pandemic, children under 5 years of age, people over 65 and pregnant women are prioritized by doctors for flu jabs. Discuss the options with your OB/GYN or midwife. The flu shot must be taken early in the season (the season typically runs November to February) for best protection. There is no evidence that vaccines cause any harm to pregnant women or their unborn babies. In fact research shows that babies born to women who receive a flu vaccine in the third pregnancy trimester were also protected in the first 6 months of life. Be sure to request the flu shot as opposed to the nasal spray vaccine. The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus, so it is safer. The nasal spray vaccine contains a live virus which means it can give you a mild case of flu.
There has been much debate in recent years about the use of a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal in flu vaccines. Raised levels of mercury can increase the risk of birth defects and disorders. About 80% of all flu shots given in America contain thimerosal. Thimerosal consists of 49.6% ethyl mercury, an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial that allows manufacturers to sell the vaccine in large dose containers without fear of contamination. According to the CDC a study of 2,000 pregnant women showed no adverse effects to the fetus from thimerosal. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics ordered the removal of thimerosal from all childhood vaccine as a precaution in 1999. Although many doctors follow the advice of the CDC (who cite a 1973 study supporting its claim that the vaccination is safe for pregnant women), you should consider asking for a thimerosal-free vaccine. It usually costs a few dollars extra per shot and is produced by companies such as Novartis, Sanofi Pasteur and MedImmune.
Also known as the H1N1 virus, swine flu carries more risks for pregnant women. In a small number of cases swine flu can cause miscarriage in early pregnancy and premature labor in the third trimester. When swine flu is in season (such as years 2010-2011), the regular flu vaccine also offers protection for H1N1 flu.
|Related Articles on PREGNANCY
For more on prenatal care, see the following:
• Pregnancy dos and don'ts, useful tips you should know about.
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