HMC reminds pregnant women to get seasonal flu vaccine
September 26 2021 01:22 PM
Dr. Huda Al Saleh
Dr. Huda Al Saleh

QNA/Doha

With the annual influenza (flu) season approaching, Hamad Medical Corporation ( HMC) is reminding pregnant women about the importance of getting vaccinated and preventing severe illness due to the flu.
The US-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated against seasonal flu and that getting a flu vaccination can reduce a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalised with flu by an average of 40%.
Dr Huda al-Saleh, senior consultant, obstetrics and gynaecologist and executive director of Quality & Safety at Women’s Wellness and Research Centre, HMC explained that vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant women by about half and that pregnant women who get a flu vaccine are also helping to protect their babies from flu illness for the first several months after their birth.
She highlighted that a flu vaccination during pregnancy can help prevent the flu and maternal complications and that changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women and people up to two weeks postpartum more prone to severe illness from flu, including hospitalisation.
“The flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Research has shown that getting a flu vaccine decreases a pregnant woman's risk of being hospitalised by an average of 40%. Similarly, the flu vaccine will prevent potential foetal health problems due to the flu. In addition, flu vaccines have been given to millions of people over many years with an excellent safety record,” observed Dr al-Saleh.
According to her, a common flu symptom is fever, which may be associated with neural tube defects and other adverse outcomes for a developing baby. “Having a fever caused by the flu early in pregnancy might increase the risk of foetal birth defects. Getting vaccinated can help protect a baby after birth from flu as the pregnant parent passes antibodies on to the developing baby during pregnancy,” she noted.
“Infants are at increased risk of severe flu symptoms, but the flu vaccine can't be given until a baby is six months old. So, if you have a flu vaccine during pregnancy, the antibodies you develop will pass through the placenta and through the breast milk, if you're breast-feeding. These antibodies help protect your baby from the flu after birth,” Dr al-Saleh stated.
She cautioned that the flu vaccine won't offer protection against Covid-19 even though they are both contagious respiratory illnesses, as they are caused by different viruses. “Getting a flu vaccine is especially important this season because the flu and Covid-19 cause similar common signs and symptoms. Flu vaccination could reduce symptoms that might be confused with those caused by Covid-19,” she added.
 
 

Last updated: September 26 2021 09:04 PM


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