Pregnant women urged to get flu vaccine


Photo: Rohit Seth | Dreamstime.com

Photo: Rohit Seth | Dreamstime.com

Pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing complications and dying due to the flu virus. In order to prevent that, the Indian group representing gynaecologists recommends that women get an annual flu vaccine. Experts assure that the vaccine is perfectly safe and poses no threat.

During pregnancy a woman’s immunity is lowered. The way her body’s organs, such as the heart and lungs, function are also altered, which means that dealing with influenza can put additional strain on her system. Having influenza while pregnant can lead to low birth weight, premature deliveries, still births and neonatal deaths, said the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), according to Zee News.

Discussing the dangers the flu poses to pregnant women, Dr Sharda Jain, Director at Life Care Centre, said, “The number of pregnant women dying of flu is increasing, even while such cases could have been prevented through immunisation. Delhi itself has recorded two pregnant women succumbing to swine flu this year. There is a lack of awareness amongst pregnant women in India regarding the serious complications of influenza and the risks associated. Maternal immunisation against influenza will ensure maternal health, safeguard the foetus and reduce influenza related illnesses in infants.”

According to the report, FOGSI suggests mothers-to-be to get immunized against influenza during pregnancy. Many women have a misconception about the safety of the flu vaccine for them and the unborn baby, so they choose not to get it. Dr Sonia Naik, Senior Consultant at Max Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology,said, “There is a certain level of fear amongst pregnant women on getting the flu shot, but it is an inactivated vaccine and is absolutely safe and effective in preventing flu. When administered, it passively immunises the neonatal by transferring maternal antibodies through placenta, thus protecting the baby from flu related complications.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) also says that vaccination against influenza is the best method to prevent the disease and complications that could arise from it. The vaccine is safe and has been given to millions of pregnant women and with no cases of problems to the mother or baby being reported due to it.

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