MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Flu season is here and the CDC says too many pregnant women go unprotected from the bug. A new survey found only about half of expectant mothers get their flu shots.
WCCO’s Kate Raddatz explains why pregnant women are more at risk of getting sick and what it could mean for their babies.
Nurses are busy packing up flu shots at this public health building in Minneapolis to bring to workplaces; they say pregnant women often ask them if it’s safe.
“What really concerns me is only about 50% of pregnant women are getting vaccinated,” said Hennepin Healthcare clinical supervisor Nan Lomen.
The CDC says pregnant women are at a particularly higher risk for getting the flu and if they do get it, they have more than double the risk of being hospitalized compared to women who aren’t pregnant.
“When a woman gets pregnant it changes their immune system, so when you get exposed to the flu you’re much more apt to get the flu,” explained Lomen.
So why are so many moms-to-be not getting vaccinated? Lomen says there is a concern of miscarriage — which has been proven is not a side effect of the flu shot.
But if you do get the flu, experts say there are greater risks to the baby.
“What’s more concerning is if they get the flu it can cause birth defects in the baby,” said Lomen.
In fact, doctors say getting the flu shot during pregnancy will protect the baby too.
Antibodies are passed onto the child and can last post birth up until they’re able to get their first flu vaccine at 6 months. Babies are also at a higher risk for getting the flu and having complications.
“Anyone who is going to come in contact with that baby should have a flu shot – grandparents, siblings relatives, anybody should get a flu shot,” added Lomen.
In addition to the flu shot, it is also a good idea to check if you are up to date on your whooping cough vaccine-or T-DAP.
You need a booster every 10 years, and whooping cough can be deadly to newborns.