Flu shot rates down among pregnant women, vaccine crucial for maternal, fetal wellness

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The flu season has arrived early this season, but one of the most vulnerable groups has been delayed in immunization.

According to the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network, nearly 47% of women aged 15-49 who were hospitalized with influenza in the week ending December 3 were pregnant, which was higher than the previous season. From 2018 she was 26.1% in 2019 and 37.4% from 2020-2021. An increase in flu testing may have played a role, but another possible factor is that as of the same day, her vaccinations had dropped by nearly 10% from last season, and her 20% drop from pre-pandemic. is doing

Pregnant people are urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as influenza is likely to be epidemic in early spring.

“If you’re pregnant, we know you’re at a much higher risk of getting sick from flu, COVID, or pulmonary respiratory disease for a variety of physiological reasons,” said an obstetrician-gynecologist at Mayo Clinic Health. One Dr. Thomas Howell Jr. said: system.

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Pregnancy can affect your immune system and organs such as your heart and lungs, making you more susceptible to serious illness and hospitalization. According to the CDC, flu vaccination cuts the risk of contracting the virus during and after pregnancy by about half and reduces the risk of hospitalization by 40%.

While not perfect, “the whole point of these vaccinations is to keep you from getting sick, especially serious ones,” says Howell.

Immunizations are also important for babies, as infections can cause complications in the fetus. Her CDC study in 2020 found that influenza infection during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage and reduce birth weight.

The CDC’s vaccine safety data link shows that flu vaccines do not increase the chance of miscarriage, and Howell says the vaccination causes infection in the mother, not “a virus that the baby can get.” Nor.

Babies cannot be vaccinated against influenza until they are six months old, so immunization during pregnancy provides early protection during the first few months by delivering antibodies across the placenta and through breast milk at birth. helps to provide

Young people over the age of 6 months should get seasonal influenza vaccinations. Young people under the age of two and those with chronic health conditions tend to be particularly severely affected. Between 2010 and 2020, approximately 80% of childhood influenza-related deaths were in unvaccinated people. So far, 21 of her children have died, including her two in Wisconsin, as of Friday afternoon.

Said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, CMO and state epidemiologist: “Flu cases are increasing statewide, and it is important that you take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. It is recommended that all eligible Wisconsin people be vaccinated, as it is the most powerful tool to prevent serious illness. hospitalized and died during flu season. ”

Spoiler alert, vitamin C isn’t one of them. Veuer’s Tony Spitz explains in detail.

“We know that if you are pregnant, you are at a much higher risk of getting sick with flu, COVID, or pulmonary respiratory disease for a variety of physiological reasons.”

Dr. Thomas Howell Jr., Mayo Clinic Health System Obstetrics and Gynecology


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