Flu Vaccine Vital For Pregnant Woman

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Moms-to-be will do anything to protect their little one.

Health officials say that should include getting your influenza vaccination.

Certified Nurse Midwife Leslie Arnold, APRN, CNM with Topeka's Lincoln Center OB/GYN, says pregnant woman are more at risk for the flu because their immune systems are more compromised while the body works hard to support the baby's development. Baby, in turn, can put pressure on body parts like mom's lungs. Arnold says the pressure on the lungs, especially later in pregnancy, might make it more difficult for expectant moms to to fight flu viruses because of the decrease in lung capacity.

Arnold says those factors make it vital for pregnant women to get an influenza vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control says it's safe at any stage of pregnancy, even the first trimester.

If mom gets the flu, and the dehydration and high fever that can come with it, it can be devastating for baby. Arnold says fevers higher than 100.5 must be addressed because, if mom becomes too warm, it can create long-term issues for the fetus. Also, if respiration becomes compromised, the fetus might not get enough oxygen.

Plus, Arnold says, treating a pregnant woman can be more difficult because of potential risks certain medications might pose to the fetus.

Arnold says expectant moms should also be aware whooping cough is making a comeback. Expectant moms who haven't had a TDaP booster in the last three years should get one after 20 weeks.

Arnold says, by getting the pertussis vaccine while pregnant, moms will deliver some passive immunities to their babies, which is important since infants cannot immediately get their own vaccine.

Arnold says it's also important for those who'll be around mom and baby, like dads, siblings and grandparents, to also get their flu and whooping cough vaccines. Plus, women thinking about getting pregnant should get the shots now, too.