Posts Tagged ‘flu vaccine’

Vaccines during pregnancy protect you and your baby

Friday, August 12th, 2016

vaccination adult womanAugust is National Immunization Awareness Month. This week’s focus is on vaccines for pregnant women.

If you are pregnant, certain vaccines can help protect you and your baby from infections. When you get the recommended vaccines during pregnancy, you protect yourself AND you pass this protection to your baby.

What vaccines do you need during pregnancy?

The CDC recommends two vaccines during pregnancy:

  1. Flu. A flu shot during pregnancy protects you from serious complications and protects your baby for several months after birth. You need a flu shot every year, as the flu strain changes year to year.
  2. Whooping cough (or Tdap). You should get Tdap at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. You need to get the Tdap vaccine in each and every pregnancy. When you get the whooping cough vaccine during your pregnancy, your body will create protective antibodies and pass some of them to your baby before birth. These antibodies will provide your baby some short-term, early protection against whooping cough which will help keep him safe until he is able to get his own vaccination at 2 months of age.

In some special cases, other vaccines may be recommended by your provider.

Vaccines for travel: If you planning international travel during your pregnancy, talk to your health care provider at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to discuss any special precautions or vaccines that you may need.

Hepatitis B: If you are pregnant and have hepatitis B, your baby is at the highest risk for becoming infected during delivery. Talk to your provider about getting tested for hepatitis B and whether or not you should get vaccinated.

Additional vaccines: Some women may need other vaccines before, during, or after they become pregnant. For example, if you have a history of chronic liver disease, your doctor may recommend the hepatitis A vaccine. If you work in a lab, or if you are traveling to a country where you may be exposed to meningococcal disease, your doctor may recommend the meningococcal vaccine.

Not all vaccines are safe to get during pregnancy, so talk to your health care provider. And don’t forget to make sure that other family members, grandparents, and caregivers are also protected!  Anyone who is going to be in contact with your baby should be immunized against whooping cough and flu. They should get the Tdap and flu vaccines at least 2 weeks before meeting your baby if they are not up-to-date with these vaccines. This way, they are not only protecting their own health, but also helping form a “cocoon” of disease protection around your baby during the first few months of life.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Flu protection for your baby for the first 8 weeks

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

2014d037_0986A new study shows that not only will getting a flu shot during pregnancy protect yourself and your newborn against the flu after delivery, it will protect her for up to 2 months after birth.

Researchers looked at over 1,000 infants born to women who received a flu shot during their pregnancy to assess how well the vaccine worked. They found that the vaccine was most effective during the first eight weeks after birth at a rate of 85.6 percent.

Infants are at higher risk for getting the flu. Because the flu vaccine isn’t recommended for newborns, getting the vaccine during your pregnancy is the best way to protect your little one until she can receive her own vaccine at six months of age.

If you get the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications. And if your baby gets the flu after birth, it can make her seriously sick. But the flu vaccine is not recommended for babies under 6 months of age. Therefore, the best way to protect your baby after birth is to get a flu shot during pregnancy.

Have an older baby or child? Be sure to read our blog post that talks about getting your child a flu shot (not the nasal mist) this year.

Have questions? Our health education specialists are here to answer them. Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

This year, get your child a flu shot, not the nasal mist

Friday, July 8th, 2016

pediatrician and babyWhile many parents (and kids) prefer the nasal mist flu vaccine, evidence shows that the flu shot is the best way to protect your child from the flu this year.

Why should my child get the flu shot instead of the nasal mist?

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is a panel of experts that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They looked at data from 2013 through 2016 and found that the nasal spray was less effective than the flu shot.

The flu nasal spray contains a live but weakened version of the flu virus. Typically, vaccines containing weakened viruses are more effective and cause a stronger immune response than vaccines with dead viruses (such as the flu shot). Initial data suggested that this was the case with the nasal spray. In 2014, the ACIP actually recommended the nasal spray over the flu shot for children.

However, during the 2015-2016 flu season, the nasal flu vaccine’s protection rate was only 3 percent. This means that no protective benefit could be measured. Its effectiveness in the previous two flu seasons was also low. In contrast, the flu shot was 63 percent effective among children aged 2 to 17 during the 2015-2016 flu season.

Get vaccinated against the flu every year

There are many different flu viruses, and they’re always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses expected to make people sick during the upcoming flu season. Protection from the vaccine only lasts about a year, so it’s important to get vaccinated every year.

While many parents (and kids) prefer the nasal mist, evidence shows that the flu shot is the best way to protect your child from the flu this year. The traditional flu shot is effective. Both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that everyone older than 6 months get the flu vaccine each year. It’s especially important for children younger than 5 to get the vaccine because they’re more likely to have serious health problems caused by the flu.

The flu shot is important for pregnant women too

Pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant also need their flu shot every year (the flu nasal spray was never recommended for use during pregnancy). If you get sick with the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications. The best way to protect yourself is to get the flu shot each year before flu season, which runs from about October through May. Even though you’re more likely to get the flu during flu season, you can get it any time of year.

The ACIP recommendation must be reviewed and approved by the CDC director before it becomes policy.

Questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

It’s time to get your flu shot…again

Friday, September 25th, 2015

midwife with pregnant womanInfluenza (also called flu) is a serious disease. It’s more than just a runny nose and sore throat. The flu can make you very sick, and it can be especially harmful if you get it during and right after pregnancy. Flu season is fast approaching and it’s time to schedule your flu shot now.

Who needs a flu shot?

Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop full protection against the flu. Getting the flu vaccine is especially important for children over 6 months, children with special needs, pregnant women and other high-risk groups.

I got a flu shot last year, why do I need another one?

Flu viruses change every year, so just because you got a flu shot last year, doesn’t mean that you are protected this year. The flu shot is designed to protect against the flu viruses that are predicted to be the most common during the flu season. Also, immunity from vaccination decreases after a year. This is why everyone needs a flu vaccine every season.

Are flu shots safe for pregnant women?

YES! All women who are pregnant should get a flu shot. It is safe to get the flu shot during pregnancy and it will protect you and your baby from serious health problems during and after pregnancy. However, remember that if you’re pregnant, you should not get the flu mist. It’s not safe to use during pregnancy.

Why is the flu so harmful during pregnancy?

The flu can be dangerous during pregnancy because:

  • Pregnancy affects your immune system. During pregnancy your immune system doesn’t respond as effectively to viruses and illnesses. This means you are more likely to catch the flu.
  • You are more likely to have serious complications. Health complications from the flu, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, can be very serious and even deadly.
  • Pregnant women who get the flu are more likely to have preterm labor and premature birth (before 37 weeks).

Where can I get a flu shot?

You can get the vaccine from your health care provider. Many pharmacies and work places also offer it each fall. You can use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find where the flu vaccine is available in your area.

The flu shot is the best way to protect you and your baby from the flu. You can learn more at flu.gov.

Have any questions? Email or text us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

New immunization symbol

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

immunize_rgb_fullcolor1The umbrella in this new symbol, representing protection of the community, tells the story of the power of immunizations. We have written many times about the importance of immunizations before pregnancy and throughout your child’s first years. Lately we have written about the need for adults, even grandparents to be vaccinated against pertussis and for everyone to receive a flu vaccine. (It’s that time of year!)

Some infections can harm you and your baby during pregnancy. Vaccinations build your immunity and help protect your body from infection. (They also protect you from getting a serious disease that could affect future pregnancies.) You pass this protection to your baby during pregnancy. This helps keep your baby safe during the first few months of life until he gets his own vaccinations. Some vaccinations are safe during pregnancy, but others are not. Here’s a link to information on which is which.

Whenever you see this new symbol, it should remind you to talk to your family’s health care providers to make sure all your vaccinations and your children’s vaccinations are up to date.

Flu vaccines and angry faces

Friday, November 1st, 2013

crying-babyMy baby boy isn’t going to like me very much tomorrow. That’s because I’m taking him to his doctor’s office for his second round of the flu shot. Neither of my kids was thrilled last month when I first took them in for the flu shot. In fact, once the nurse pulled out the needle, my almost 3-year-old daughter (who’s no fan of taking turns or sharing with her little brother) was quick to say, “it’s baby’s turn… it’s baby’s turn,” so the baby would go first and she could buy herself some extra time (and probably hope that the nurse would forget to give her a shot, too.)

It breaks my heart to see my kids’ tears after a shot. And I hate the angry faces they make at me, blaming me for their pain. But I remind myself that it’s for their own good and I rather they deal with a pinch from a shot than get very sick from flu.

The thing with the flu is that it can be very dangerous, especially to kids and even healthy ones. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 2 in 5 kids who died from flu complications were otherwise healthy and didn’t have other serious medical conditions. That’s very scary. I had the flu several years ago and it completely knocked me out. I missed over a week of work. And, believe me, I would’ve rather been working! I don’t ever want to get that sick again!

If you haven’t already done so, be sure your kids get their yearly flu vaccine. And don’t forget to get one yourself! I just got my flu shot this week and my arm is still sore. I made an angry face at myself in the mirror this morning.

Flu season is approaching

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

vaccineComplications from influenza, such as pneumonia, can be serious and even deadly to mothers and their babies. The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women and women who expect to become pregnant get a flu shot every year.

Flu season is right around the corner and early fall is not too early for pregnant women, and women who expect to become pregnant, to get their flu shot. Dr. Siobhan Dolan, a medical advisor to March of Dimes, says “The influenza virus poses a serious risk of illness and even death. Babies born to mothers who got their flu shot while pregnant were protected from serious illness with influenza during their first six months of life.”

Studies looking at thousands of pregnant women receiving the seasonal flu vaccine found that babies did not have a higher risk of premature birth or developing a birth defect when compared to babies born to women who did not get a vaccine. Researchers found that women who received the flu shot were less likely to experience a stillbirth.

In addition to the receiving the vaccine, pregnant women can also lower their risk of catching influenza by limiting contact with others who are sick, washing their hands with soap and water before touching others and by coughing or sneezing into a tissue or arm. Unimmunized pregnant women who develop influenza symptoms such as muscle aches, fever and coughs should contact their health providers immediately to begin treatment.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months or older, including pregnant women, receive a vaccine against the influenza virus, ideally by October.

I got my flu vaccine. Did you get yours?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

vaccineIt’s the tail end of my pregnancy and I’ve been busy getting all sorts of things ready to welcome our second baby. One thing I recently crossed off my to-do list was to have all of us (my husband, our daughter and me) get our yearly flu vaccine to protect us from flu.

Getting the flu is more than just having the sniffles or a cough. I got the flu once several years ago and it completely wiped me out! I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I had trouble breathing, no appetite, fever and chills, and was always exhausted even though I slept for most of the day. I was so sick that I never want to get the flu again!

It’s important for everyone to get the flu vaccine, but that’s especially true if you’re pregnant. That’s because you’re much more likely to have serious health complications from flu during pregnancy. Some health complications include miscarriage, preterm labor, premature birth or having a low-birthweight baby. In some cases, flu during pregnancy can even be deadly.

Don’t forget to have your partner and other children get their flu vaccine, too. Babies can get their first flu vaccine at age 6 months. But for us, our newborn baby will be too young to get his or her flu vaccine for much of this year’s flu season. So, the best way to protect our new baby and the rest of us from flu is to make sure the whole family gets the flu vaccine.

If you have any questions about getting the flu vaccine, talk to your health provider. Learn more about vaccinations during pregnancy and your baby’s vaccinations. Visit flu.gov for more information on flu.

Time for your flu shot!

Friday, September 30th, 2011

get-your-flu-shot1Did you know that pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized from complications of the flu than non-pregnant women of the same age?

Pregnancy increases the risk of complications of flu, such as bacterial pneumonia and dehydration, which can be serious and even fatal. Pregnancy also can change a woman’s immune system, as well as affect her heart and lungs. Getting vaccinated at any time during pregnancy is the best way pregnant women can protect themselves and their babies from the flu.

Recent research published in PLoS Medicine earlier this year also found that getting a flu shot during pregnancy may offer some protection from having a premature or low birth weight baby. The study looked at births in Georgia from 2004 to 2006 and found that pregnant women who received the flu vaccine and who gave birth during the October through May flu season were 40 percent less likely to have a baby born too soon.

The flu vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective. As an added bonus, during pregnancy, mothers pass on their immunity, protecting babies in those early months of life. Parents of children younger than 6 months should be vaccinated against influenza because these children cannot receive the preventive vaccine. Those who live with pregnant women or young children, or are in close contact with them, should be immunized. If you have a child who is 6 months or older, she should get a seasonal flu vaccine every year. The flu vaccine is safe for most children.

Make it a family affair. There is plenty to go around, so schedule your flu shots today.

Flu shot lowers preterm birth risk

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Aside from helping to prevent the miseries of the flu, a flu shot during pregnancy may reduce a woman’s risk of delivering a premature baby. Every year, more than half a million babies are born prematurely in the United States. Since 1981, the premature birth rate has risen by 30 percent. Babies born just a few weeks too soon can face serious health challenges and are at risk of lifelong disabilities.

A new study reviewed data from over 4000 births over a two year time frame in the state of Georgia. Roughly 15% of pregnant women received flu shots. These women who delivered during flu season (defined as October through May) were on average 40% less likely to deliver prematurely, before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. During the peak flu season (January & February), vaccinated women were 72% less likely to deliver prematurely as opposed to unvaccinated women.  Additionally, babies born during peak flu season to mothers who were vaccinated were 69% less likely to be small for gestational age.

At other times of year (not flu season), the study found no association between flu vaccination and reduced premature birth. Because of this, the researchers believe that it is the vaccine that is offering this protection. And an earlier study found that getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy can even protect your baby after delivery.

When you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to illnesses as it was before pregnancy. Your body knows that pregnancy is OK and that it shouldn’t reject your baby. Your body naturally lowers your immune system’s ability to protect you and respond to illnesses so that it can welcome your growing baby. But a lowered immune system means you’re more likely to catch illnesses like the flu. Your lungs and heart are working harder to support you and your baby and this stress on your body also can make it more likely for you to get an illness like the flu.

For these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians and the March of Dimes all recommend women get vaccinated against the flu during pregnancy.