Posts Tagged ‘swine flu’

Time for flu shots, and most will be free this year

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends annual seasonal influenza immunization for all children above the age of 6 months, including teens.  If you want to read it, the AAP policy statement, “Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2010-2011,” will be published in the October 2010 print issue of the journal Pediatrics and released earlier online.

Influenza can be a serious illness for young children, especially between the ages of 6 months and five years.  It is recommended that special efforts should be made to immunize all family members, household contacts, and out-of-home care providers of children who are aged younger than 5 years; children with high-risk conditions (ie, asthma, diabetes or neurologic disorders); healthcare personnel; and pregnant women.

The vaccine should be much easier to get this year.  Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, says the federal Affordable Care Act mandates for the first time that Medicare and private health plans offer flu vaccine coverage without co-pays or deductibles. Uninsured children are covered under the federal Vaccines for Children program.

Although two influenza vaccines were recommended last year, only a single trivalent vaccine is being manufactured for the current 2010-2011 seasonal influenza vaccine schedule and there will be plenty of it available.  This year’s vaccine protects against 2009 H1N1, or swine flu, and the two other flu viruses that also are expected to cause disease this year.

Is there thimerosal in the H1N1 vaccine?

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

vaccine1Some H1N1 flu vaccines have a preservative called thimerosal. Although some people have suggested a link between thimerosal and autism,  medical experts from the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) have thoroughly researched the issue and concluded that thimerosal-containing vaccines are NOT associated with autism. However, if you’re still concerned, a thimerosal-free version of the H1N1 vaccine is available.

The 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccines that FDA is licensing (approving) will be manufactured in several formulations. Some will come in multi-dose vials and will contain thimerosal as a preservative. Multi-dose vials of seasonal influenza vaccine also contain thimerosal to prevent potential contamination after the vial is opened.

Some vaccine manufacturers will be producing 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine in single-dose units, which will not require the use of thimerosal as a preservative. In addition, the live-attenuated version of the vaccine, which is administered intranasally (through the nose), is produced in single-units and will not contain thimerosal.  The nasal spray version, however, is not recommended for pregnant women.

H1N1 flu harmful during pregnancy

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

vaccineYou may have seen our previous post explaining how flu (both seasonal and H1N1) affects women during pregnancy, or understanding the facts vs. myths about flu vaccines. Earlier this week, the New York Times published an article about one woman’s tragic experience with H1N1 during her pregnancy. The young woman featured in this piece tells her sad story in an effort to encourage pregnant women to get both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines.

Some areas of the country have started to receive their shipments of the H1N1 vaccine. But other areas are still waiting. My husband, who works in health care, is among those who should get the H1N1 vaccine first. But when he called his doctor last week to make an appointment, he was told they still hadn’t received the H1N1 vaccine shipment. They asked him to call back in November.

While some people may have a delay in access to the H1N1 vaccine, keep calling your health provider, watch for news reports or contact your local health department to find out when the vaccine is coming to your area. In the meantime, follow these tips to help avoid the flu. If you’re pregnant and have flu-like symptoms, contact your health provider right away so that s/he can start you on flu medications. You must have a prescription from your health provider to get this medication.

Also, beware of any advertisements for H1N1 flu products that you may see either online or in print. Some of these products are fake and may contain ingredients that can be harmful to your pregnancy. Again, only your health provider can prescribe your flu medication. Never take any medications or herbal remedies without talking with your health provider first.

Myths v. Facts About Flu Vaccines

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with family when the topic of the flu, particularly the H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine, came up. My in-laws (one is a mom, the other is a nurse) talked about their concerns with both the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu vaccines and whether or not they or their children should get them. I quickly realized that there’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there. To help get through all of the confusion, it might help to know the myths from facts.

Myth: You can get a cold or flu from the seasonal or H1N1 flu vaccine.
Fact: The flu vaccines CANNOT get you sick with a cold or flu. My in-law said that the last time her son got his seasonal flu vaccine, he got a runny nose and cough a few days later and had to stay home from school. But the truth is that the two situations are unrelated. The reason it’s called “flu season” is because lots of people tend to come down with the flu at around the same time period. In the case of my in-law, it’s most likely that her son caught a cold at around the same time he got his vaccine, but the symptoms didn’t show until a few days later.

Myth: The H1N1 vaccine hasn’t been tested enough, so it can’t be safe.
Fact: The H1N1 vaccine is made exactly the same way the seasonal flu vaccine is made every year. And the seasonal flu vaccine has been thoroughly tested for years. The H1N1 flu is simply a new virus strain. Millions of Americans get the seasonal flu vaccine each year without any problems. To be doubly careful, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the vaccine makers have conducted more rigorous tests on the H1N1 vaccine than they do on other flu vaccines. The clinical trials conducted have shown that the new H1N1 vaccine is both safe and effective.

That said, there are certain people who shouldn’t get the H1N1 vaccine. Generally, these are the same people who shouldn’t get the seasonal flu vaccine. For example, people with egg allergies shouldn’t get the flu vaccines because eggs are used to make both flu vaccines. Learn more by visiting the CDC Web site.

Myth: Getting the seasonal or H1N1 vaccine during pregnancy may be the reason I miscarried.
Fact: Sadly, miscarriages are more common than we think. Everyday, about 2,000 miscarriages occur. In fact, as many as 2 out of 5 pregnancies may end in miscarriage because many losses occur before a woman realizes she is pregnant. It’s common to want to understand why something like this happened.  But please know that getting the H1N1 vaccine doesn’t increase your risk of miscarriage or any other health-related event like heart attacks or strokes. It’s important to know that one event doesn’t necessarily cause the other.

Remember: it’s very important that pregnant moms get both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines. If you have questions, talk to your health provider. You can also submit a question to one of our health information specialists.

Flu and pregnancy don’t mix!

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

There’s a lot of discussion around the flu and why it’s important to get your seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines, especially  if you’re pregnant. To understand why you should get these two flu shots during pregnancy, it might be helpful to know some of the reasons why pregnant women are more likely to get the flu during pregnancy.

One reason has to do with your immune system, the natural defense mechanism that helps protect you from illnesses and diseases in life. During pregnancy, your immune system isn’t as responsive as it was before pregnancy. Part of this is because your body is carrying something that it considers foreign and isn’t normally part of you (in this case, your baby). Usually when this happens, your immune system wants to protect you and will do its best to fight off this foreign element. However, since your body doesn’t want to reject your baby, it naturally lowers the immune system’s ability to defend and respond. But, a lowered immune system means you’re more vulnerable to illnesses like the flu.

A second reason is that pregnant women often spend much time around little children. And since kids spend so much time with other kids, are usually in close proximity to each other and are always putting things in their mouths, this makes them perfect little Petri dishes of germs and bacteria. These germs can eventually make their way to you. And as we know, your immune system during pregnancy isn’t as tough as it is when you’re not pregnant.

Another reason is that during pregnancy, especially in your second and third trimesters, you need more oxygen than before because you’re supplying it to both you and baby. Your growing belly puts more pressure on your lungs, making them work harder in a smaller space. You may even find yourself feeling some shortness of breath at times. Your heart is working very hard, too! It’s busy supplying blood to you and baby. All of this means your body is stressed during pregnancy. This stress on your body can increase your risk of getting an illness like the flu.

Unfortunately, getting the flu during pregnancy puts you and baby at special health risks. These risks can be very harmful and, in some cases, deadly. That’s why it’s very important to prevent this by getting both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines during pregnancy.

You’ll also do baby a service! By getting the two vaccines during pregnancy, you’ll be able to pass your immunity to your baby so that when he’s born, he’s less likely to get the flu in his first months of life.

Some pregnant moms might be concerned about vaccines potentially causing harm to you or baby. But given the issues as explained above, there’s a bigger chance of putting mom and baby’s health at risk by not getting the two flu vaccines during pregnancy. The benefits of the vaccines far outweigh any potential risk.

So please, get your seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines. For more information, read our seasonal flu and H1N1 articles or talk to your health provider. You can also visit for the latest updates on the seasonal and H1N1 flu.

Be sure to get your flu shots

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Flu season is just around the corner. It’s important that everyone, especially expecting moms, get their flu shots. In addition to the seasonal flu shot, pregnant moms and moms of young children should also get the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

Read our past post on swine flu to learn more about the illness and who should get the swine flu vaccine. News Moms Need will provide updates when the swine flu vaccine is available.

Pregnant moms will get priority for swine flu vaccine

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

In the last few days, you may have seen some news coverage about swine flu (also called H1N1) and its effect on mother and baby during pregnancy. With flu season just around the corner, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is giving priority to pregnant women and putting them at the front of the line of people who should get the swine flu vaccine first when it becomes available. Other groups at the top of the list are:
• children and young adults up to age 24
• people who live with or care for babies younger than 6 months of age
• health care providers
• people with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems

Learn more about swine flu or read our past post on swine flu and pregnancy.

Swine flu oubreak may worsen in the fall

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Today the U.S. Government reported that the outbreak of swine flu (also known as H1N1 flu) is continuing and may get worse in the fall.  Scientists are currently working on a vaccine, which may be ready in time for the fall flu season.

For more, read the March of Dimes article on swine flu. It includes information about this illness and pregnant women, infants, children and breastfeeding women.

Swine flu has spread around the world (pandemic). But disease has not become more serious

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Today the World Health Organization declared that the swine flu (also called H1N1 flu) is a pandemic. What does this mean for you and your family? Should you do anything differently?

The word “pandemic” means that the disease has spread to many countries. It does not mean that the disease has become more serious. We should all continue taking the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Be alert to signs of the flu: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting. If you or any member of your family has any of these symptoms, call your health care provider. Early treatment can make a big difference.

It’s not surprising that the swine flu has spread around the world. Flu viruses are usually very contagious. As of now, most people who have had swine flu have had mild symptoms, but some have died.

Experts are watching the disease closely in case it becomes more serious. Viruses can change, and these changes can affect how serious the illness is.

To learn more about swine flu during pregnancy, among children and among breastfeeding women, read the March of Dimes article.

Swine flu and pregnancy

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

pregnant1If you’re pregnant, you may have been wondering, “What happens if I get the swine flu? Will it hurt my baby? How dangerous would it be for me?”

If you do get swine flu, the illness may be mild. But for some women, swine flu will progress rapidly, and symptoms will be severe.

Complications of any flu, such as pneumonia and dehydration, can be serious and even fatal. So be on the watch for any symptoms. Treatment can help.

Symptoms of swine flu include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting.

If you are pregnant and have flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider. If your symptoms are severe, talk with your provider about the benefits and risks of taking an antiviral drug, such as Tamiflu. Consider the seriousness of your illness as you decide about medication.

High fever may be especially dangerous to the fetus. Acetaminophen appears to be the best way to treat fever during pregnancy.

For more info on swine flu, visit the Web site of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).