Pregnant? News About The Flu Shot…

That time of year is upon us again — the beginning of the flu season and time to think about getting that shot. We hem, we haw, we wonder, “Do I really need it?”

We know. It’s a hassle and some of us wonder whether it’s worth it. But if you happen to be pregnant, you’d best listen up. There’s some new research out there that might help you put your reservations aside, fork over the 29 bucks, and get that shot in the arm.

The research study, which will be published in the February 2011 edition of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, looked at 1,100 pregnant women and their babies over the course of three flu seasons. Angelina Eick of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center in Silver Spring and her team choose to look at women from the Navajo and White Mountain Apache Indian reservations, since babies from this population have a much higher rate of severe respiratory infections than the general population.

The team took blood samples both before and after each flu season and monitored everyone carefully for any signs or symptoms of influenza. Their study found that the women who were vaccinated during pregnancy received an added benefit: their babies were 41% less likely to get a lab-confirmed case of the flu and 39% less likely to be hospitalized with the illness.

The vaccinated babies also had high higher levels of antibodies at birth and again at 2-3 months than the kids whose mothers did not get the vaccine. So the protective effects of the flu shot were clearly seen for both the moms and their babes.

This is really encouraging news because babies under the age of six months cannot get the flu shot and carry the highest risk for severe influenza illnesses. In bad seasons (like the 2009 swine flu pandemic) they are the ones most likely to become seriously ill or require hospitalization.

So, come on mamas! That flu shot you might be waffling about will get you two-for-one protection — and you’re both in high risk groups. Do yourselves and your wee little buns-in-the-oven a huge favor and get that shot!! As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And ain’t that the truth?

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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