Posts Tagged ‘influenza’

It’s time to schedule your flu shot

Friday, September 29th, 2017

The flu is more than just a runny nose and sore throat. It’s a serious disease that can make you very sick. The flu can be especially harmful if you get it during pregnancy or right after you’ve had your baby. Although it is only September, flu season is fast approaching. So now is the time to schedule flu shots for you and your whole family.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu shot. 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.

Do you need to get a flu shot every year?

Yes! 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. For these reasons, everyone needs a flu vaccine every year.

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, the flu mist is 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).

Will getting a flu shot protect your baby?

Getting the flu shot during pregnancy helps to protect your baby from the flu after he’s born. If you get the flu shot during pregnancy, you pass on your immunity to your baby. Some studies have shown that vaccinating a pregnant woman can give her baby antibodies to protect against flu for several months after birth. You baby should get his own flu vaccine at 6 months.

Where can you 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.

A flu shot during pregnancy can protect you and your baby

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

CDC- pregnant women and flu vaccineIn recognition of CDC’s National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), March of Dimes is participating in a blog relay with a “Focus on the Family” theme for NIVW. Each day, one of CDC’s Digital Ambassadors will leverage the holiday season to encourage their readers to focus on protecting the family. You can follow the NIVW conversation on Twitter using hashtag #NIVW2015.

Did you know that getting the flu shot during pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby?

The flu is a serious disease – it can be harmful, especially to pregnant women. Pregnant women who get the flu are more likely than women who don’t get it to have problems such as preterm labor and premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Fever caused by flu early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects and other problems in your baby.

When you are pregnant, your body lowers its defenses to germs. This happens so that your body accepts your growing baby. However, with a lowered immune system, you become more likely to get sick from viruses like the flu.

What should you do?

If you are pregnant, get a flu shot (not the flu mist). CDC says it’s safe to get during any stage of pregnancy. A flu shot protects you and your baby from serious health problems during and AFTER pregnancy.

How will it help your baby?

Getting the flu shot during pregnancy helps to protect your baby from flu even after he is born. As a mother, you pass on your immunity to your baby. Some studies have shown that vaccinating a pregnant woman can give her baby antibodies to protect against flu for six months after birth. This means that your baby is protected until he is old enough to receive his own vaccination, at 6 months of age.

Watch this video to learn about flu symptoms and how pregnant women can stay healthy.  If you have questions, talk to your prenatal health care provider or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Remember: CDC says an annual flu vaccination is the best protection against flu. Get your flu vaccine and encourage others to do the same by sharing your flu vaccination selfies on social media using the #VaxWithMe hashtag! Be sure to stop by the other NIVW relay participants’ blogs to learn about the benefits of flu vaccination– tomorrow’s post will be hosted by A Place for Mom and Healtheo360.

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.

 

Antiviral medications and the flu

Monday, January 12th, 2015

mom and babyAntiviral medications have the ability to lessen flu symptoms, shorten the duration of the illness, and prevent serious complications.

As you may have already heard, this year’s flu season is being described by the CDC as “severe.” We are only about half-way through flu season and there have already been 26 pediatric deaths. The main strain of flu this year is H3N2, which unfortunately is a nastier flu virus than the other viruses. It typically leads to more hospitalizations and deaths than other strains of the flu.

The CDC is now recommending that doctors prescribe antiviral medications to high-risk patients suspected of having the flu even before the diagnosis is confirmed.

People at high-risk include:
• Children younger than 5 years of age and especially kids younger than 2 years old
• Children of any age with long-term health conditions including developmental disabilities
• Children of any age with neurologic conditions.
• Pregnant women 
• Individuals over the age of 65

How do antiviral medications help?

Antiviral medications work because they help to prevent the flu virus from multiplying in your body. These medications should be started as soon as possible after signs of illness develop —ideally within 48 hours. The most common flu symptoms include fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, coughing, congestion, runny nose, and sore throat. Children may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.

There is almost no age at which someone is too young for antiviral medications. There are two antiviral drugs that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating the flu in children. One of these can be used in children as young as two weeks old, while the other can be used to treat those 7 years and older.

Dr. Frieden of the CDC says “Antiviral flu medicines are underutilized. If you get them early, they could keep you out of the hospital and might even save your life.”

And believe it or not, it is not too late to get your flu shot. Although this year’s vaccine is not a good match for the H3N2 strain causing most of the illness this year (about 2/3rd of the H3N2 viruses are different than what is in the vaccine), it may still offer some protection, especially against the other strains of flu.

The bottom line:

• This year is a severe flu season, especially for those who are considered high-risk for complications.
• The CDC is urging doctors to prescribe antiviral medications for high risk patients when flu is suspected, even before the diagnosis is confirmed.
• If your baby or child has flu-like symptoms, contact your pediatrician right away and ask if antiviral medications may be appropriate.
• It is still not too late to get your flu shot.

Flu is dangerous for certain people

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

You’ve all heard it: get your flu shot. It is on our blog, website, and everyone from the CDC, FDA, AAP, ACOG, doctors, and other notable tired-toddlerorganizations all agree: getting the flu shot is the single best form of protection from flu.

Is it really that important?

Yes. Flu can be life-threatening. Certain groups of people are at higher risk of serious complications from flu:

• Children younger than 5 years of age and especially kids younger than 2 years old.

• Children of any age with long-term health conditions including developmental disabilities. See this post to learn which high risk conditions are included.

• Children of any age with neurologic conditions. Some children with neurologic conditions may have trouble with muscle function, lung function or difficulty coughing, swallowing, or clearing fluids from their airways. These problems can make flu symptoms worse. Learn more here.

• Pregnant women. They are at high risk of having serious health complications from flu which include miscarriage, preterm labor, premature birth or having a low-birthweight baby. In some cases, flu during pregnancy can even be deadly. By getting a flu shot during pregnancy, your baby will be protected for several months.

•  Adults older than age 65 (attention grandparents!).

When should you talk to your provider?

According to the CDC, you should seek advice from your provider before getting a flu shot if you are allergic to eggs, have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), have had a prior severe reaction to the flu shot or to an ingredient in the shot, or are not feeling well.

Bottom line- get your flu shot

Read Test your flu knowledge – true or false? to learn the truth about flu.  Knowledge is powerful.

If you have questions, speak with your health care provider or visit flu.gov  or send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We welcome your input!

Updated Feb. 2017.

Test your flu knowledge – true or false?

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

got my flu shotYou can catch the flu from the flu shot.

FALSE.  The flu (influenza) shot is made up of inactivated (dead) flu virus. It does not contain any live influenza virus, so you can’t get the flu from the flu shot. Some people report soreness at the injection site while others report a headache, itching, fatigue, aches or fever, but these symptoms should go away within a day or two. The flu lasts much longer.

If you got the flu shot last year, you don’t need to get it again.

FALSE. You need a flu shot every year.  Flu viruses are always changing. Each year’s flu vaccine is made to protect from viruses that are most likely to cause disease that year. A flu shot protects you from three or four different flu types.

You can’t die from flu.

FALSE.  Each year, thousands of people in the United States die from flu, and many more are hospitalized. Children with special health care needs are especially vulnerable to complications from flu.

Flu can be spread by coughing, sneezing and close contact with someone who has flu.

TRUE. Sneezing and coughing spreads the flu. It is easy to catch flu if you are close to someone who has it.

Children have the highest risk of getting flu.

TRUE.  Anyone can get flu, but the risk of getting flu is highest among children.

The best way to avoid getting flu is to stay home.

FALSE. The best protection from flu and its complications is the flu shot. It protects you from getting it and helps to decrease the spread of flu.

The flu shot is better than the flu nasal spray.

TRUE and FALSE.  In the past, only the flu shot was recommended for pregnant woman and individuals with certain health conditions (such as asthma, etc.).  Some individuals preferred the flu nasal spray (which contains a live but weakened version of the flu) and was easier to give to children. However, this year the nasal spray is not recommended for anyone because it’s ineffective. Everyone should only get the flu shot.

Once you get the flu shot, you are protected from flu immediately.

FALSE. After getting the flu shot, it takes about two weeks to develop protection from flu. Then, the protection lasts several months to a year.

Flu can make some people much sicker than others.

TRUE. Flu can make certain people seriously sick. They include young children, pregnant women, people age 65 and older, people with certain health conditions (eg. heart, lung or kidney disease), and people with a weakened immune system. Flu can be especially dangerous for children with developmental disabilities.

So, how did you do?  Hopefully, you will see that getting a flu shot is very important and you will get yours soon.

 

Updated January 2017.

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.

Your child’s vaccinations

Friday, April 26th, 2013

baby-docApril 20-27 is National Infant Immunization Week, so today we’re here to remind you of the importance of getting your little one all the vaccines she needs.

I always hated watching my kids get vaccinations (also called immunizations) and winced when they weren’t looking. If you’re a parent, it may actually seem more painful for you than for them! They may be uncomfortable for a minute, but these important shots help protect them from some serious childhood diseases like polio, chickenpox, measles, mumps and the flu.

All children should be vaccinated for their own health and so they don’t spread infections or diseases to others. It’s important to keep a record of what your little ones have received so you know what’s coming up next. All childhood vaccines are given in two or more doses. Your baby needs more than one dose because each one builds up her immunity. Immunity is her body’s protection from disease. A second or third dose is needed to fully protect her. These doses work best if they’re spread out over time.

In the first 2 years of life, your baby gets several vaccines to protect her. This handy schedule shows each vaccine your baby gets up to 6 years of age. It also shows how many doses she gets of each vaccine and when she needs to get them. Your baby should get vaccinations and boosters regularly, all the way through age 18.

Often health care providers will hand out a booklet or form to parents to help them keep a record of their child’s vaccinations. Ask your child’s doc if he has one for you to use.

Chat on flu and pregnancy

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

feverA friend of mine is very sick with the flu and has a fever of 105. Influenza (the flu) is no joke. It’s more than just a runny nose and sore throat. Instead, it can cause a person to be very sick. And for some people, it can be life-threatening. It can be especially harmful to pregnant women. Pregnant women are at high risk of having serious health problems from the flu, but the vaccine can protect both mother and baby from the flu and its possible consequences.

Flu is taking its toll in 2013. The CDC reports this year’s flu season is above “epidemic thresholds.” Join us on Twitter for a chat about flu and pregnancy, signs and symptoms, about the safety of the vaccine and when to contact your health care provider. Dr. Siobhan Dolan will be with us to answer any questions you may have.

Stop by at 1 PM ET on Friday, February 1st. Be sure to use #pregnancychat to join the conversation.