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Why pregnant women should receive flu vaccine and pertussis booster

Kelley A. Hanrahan
Why do we recommend that pregnant women receive both the flu vaccine and the pertussis booster during pregnancy? Here are a few reasons:
 
The influenza virus, better known as the flu, has been proven over and over to have the potential to cause serious disease in pregnancy.  That includes an increased risk that when pregnant women “catch” the flu, they may require admission to the intensive care unit, require a ventilator and, less commonly, even death.  It’s serious.   Babies of women who are infected with the flu during pregnancy are more likely to be born prematurely and are at increased risk for stillbirth.

We recommend the flu vaccine at any point in pregnancy and offer the single dose, preservative free vaccine in our office to all pregnant women (with the exception of those who have a medical reason not to get it.)  A common misconception is that the vaccine causes the flu - it does not.  Another misconception is that it is not safe for the developing baby to be exposed to the vaccine itself or the immune response it generates.  There is no evidence to support this fear in almost 50 years of administrating this vaccine and close follow up of those receiving it.

We recommend the flu shot, which is an inactivated virus. The Flumist is a live attenuated virus that is not recommended in pregnancy.

Your family members should also receive the vaccine as they can pass the flu on to a newborn who has not yet gotten the vaccine.  Babies can suffer severe complications if they are infected with the virus before they can receive the vaccine.
 
The other vaccine we recommend during pregnancy is the Tdap booster.  The benefit of the pertussis booster outweighs any perceived risk.  Pertussis, or the whooping cough, is at epidemic levels especially on the west coast including Washington State.  That may be  ...
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