By: Tanya Evers, MD
Flu season is upon us and you may be one of those people who says, “I don’t get the flu shot, and I don’t plan on starting now.”
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant this flu season, I advise you to reconsider this year. It would be an especially good idea to get your flu vaccination when it becomes available as pregnancy is considered a “high risk” category by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) which means that even if the vaccine is in short supply in your area, you are still one of the recommended people to receive the shot. So, unless you have a specific medical reason not to receive the vaccine, I would highly encourage you to follow up on the CDC’s recommendation. Speak with you health care provider if you have any questions.
The other vaccine that I would urge you to consider in pregnancy is the Tdap (Tetanus, Diptheria, and Pertussis). This can benefit you , but the CDC actually recommends the Tdap in pregnancy mainly for the protection of infants against whooping cough. You may have delivered a baby a couple of years ago and accepted the Tdap that was offered to you postpartum. That is great, but that single vaccination is not enough anymore. The CDC is recommending that the Tdap be given during each pregnancy after 20 weeks, but ideally between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy to help protect babies after birth. The idea is that some of those protective antibodies will cross over to the baby and help fighting off whooping cough or at least some of the secondary effects of the disease until the infant can be fully immunized, which is many months to years later in life. The CDC urges mothers to not only get vaccinated during each pregnancy, but to also ensure that those who will be in close contact with their infant, caregivers and siblings, for example, be immunized. In addition, maintaining the infant on the prescribed immunization schedule throughout early childhood is critical.
Please consider these immunizations for your health and that of your family. To learn more, visit cdc.gov/vaccines.