The 2012 Flu season is upon us!
Pregnant patients need the Flu Vaccine!
We have ordered as many Influenza (Flu) vaccines as available to our office for the upcoming flu season, which extends from October through May. Both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) strongly recommend that all pregnant patients receive the vaccine regardless of the stage in their pregnancy.
The following are some of the important reasons for vaccination:
1) The influenza vaccine will protect you from the new strain of influenza virus this year, which can potentially cause pandemics like in 2009. It will provide immunity within 2 weeks of receiving the vaccine.
2) The inactivated influenza vaccine is the one recommended in pregnancy. Its safety has been extensively studied.
3) Severe complications of influenza are more common in pregnant patients than in non- pregnant patients. These complications include more admissions to the hospital, severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia with admission to the intensive care unit, and more febrile illness (higher fever with complications.) There have also been cases of premature labor and miscarriage associated with influenza.
4) There is evidence that when given in pregnancy the vaccine may also be protective for the infant and baby during its first 6 months of life.
5) The mercury containing preservative (e.g. thimerosal) contained in the multi dose vials has been extensively studied and not shown to be at all harmful to the fetus. To avoid any concern by our patients, we have ordered single dose vials which do not contain thimerosal.
6) Patients who may not be candidates for the vaccine are few. Those who have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous flu vaccine, those with a known severe allergy to egg protein, and patients who have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome in the past are not good candidates. (See below)
As ACOG states, “Preventing influenza during pregnancy is an essential element of prenatal care and the most effective strategy for preventing influenza is annual immunization.”
It is not uncommon for patients to experience some mild soreness at the injection site, some mild aches, mild headache, or fatigue. These symptoms usually resolve after a few days.
Serious problems are RARE!!!!!
Allergic reactions are one of the serious RARE problems and like other allergic reactions usually occur within hours of the vaccine. The patient should look for marked lip swelling, shortness of breath and/or a significant rash.
The only serious illness ever associated with the influenza vaccine, first seen in 1976, was Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), an immune response that can cause temporary muscle weakness, which sometimes can be severe. The CDC states “since then the flu vaccines have not been clearly linked to GBS.” The only large study ever conducted, through the CDC, placed the incidence of GBS associated with vaccine at about 0.8/Million people (less than one in a million chance), far less than the incidence of death from the flu. In addition the majority of cases of GBS were seen in patients over the age of 50 y.o. and not in pregnant patients.