By Nancy Albrecht, RN, BSN, IBCLC
Women’s Birth & Wellness Center will begin offering seasonal influenza vaccinations (flu shots) on September 15, 2016.
Your midwives and nurse practitioners at WBWC recommend that you get a flu shot every year, if:
– You are pregnant
– You are breastfeeding
– You are a parent
– You are 6 months old or older
YES, all of you!
We believe the benefits of being immunized against flu outweigh the risks of getting the vaccination.
1. Getting the flu shot during pregnancy protects mom, the growing baby, and later, the newborn (up to 6 months old) from getting infected with the flu.
2. Pregnant and postpartum mothers (up to 2 weeks after birth), and infants, even if otherwise healthy, are at higher risk of getting flu and of developing severe complications, such as pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death. Fetuses exposed to influenza are at risk of being born small for gestational age, being born preterm, and intrauterine fetal demise.
3. Risks of a vaccine reaction range from mild soreness at the site of injection (60%) to very rare severe allergic reaction (<1%). Side effects of the vaccine are mild compared to the disease itself. Flu vaccines given during pregnancy have not been shown to cause harm to a pregnant woman or her baby.
4. During years when there is a good match between the flu vaccine and circulating viruses, substantial benefits are gained from vaccination by preventing flu illness. But in years when the flu vaccine is not well matched, it’s possible that no benefit from flu vaccination may be observed. You reduce your risk of getting influenza and other complications by being vaccinated, but you may still get sick with flu after receiving the vaccine.
5. WBWC provides the trivalent preservative-free vaccine. You can get the flu shot during any trimester of pregnancy or postpartum and while breastfeeding.
Follow these other preventive steps throughout the flu season (October to May)
*WASH YOUR HANDS frequently with soap and warm water, for 20 seconds. Dry with paper towels or an air-dryer. Avoid using shared hand towels.
*Alcohol-based hand cleaner is also effective. Rub your hands together with the gel until dry.
*Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and wash your hands right away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve/elbow, not your hands.
*Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth when you haven’t recently washed your hands. Cold and flu viruses enter your body through these points.
*STAY HOME if you are sick (except for medical care). Avoid sharing food, eating or drinking utensils, and direct physical contact with sick people.
*Boost your immune system: eat a well-balanced diet, with plenty of green, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables, drink 64 ounces of water a day, sleep 8 hours a night, exercise regularly, and stay calm.
*Breastfeed your baby to continue to pass immunity to your newborn.
You should call WBWC if you have been exposed to someone with flu or flu-like symptoms. If you have some or all of these symptoms, we want to see you within 48 hours:
abrupt fever (>100.4), cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, shortness of breath, body aches/muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhea (rare). Prescription medication is recommended for pregnant women with suspected or confirmed influenza. These medications can be taken safely during any trimester of pregnancy.
Please talk to any WBWC care provider if you have questions about these recommendations. We also have information about natural and herbal products that may be considered for prevention of flu.