The flu season is definitely among us, with January being the peak season for influenza outbreaks. The CDC has predicted a more severe 2014-2015 flu season this year, with 91% of influenza infections thus far being due to the H3N2 virus. Unfortunately, because of the guesswork involved in manufacturer’s development of the upcoming year’s vaccine strains, this year’s flu vaccine has only a 48% match to the H3N2 viral strain. Nonetheless, flu illness does appear to be less severe in those having received the vaccine. Of particularly grave significance, is the prevention of the flu in pregnant women. Pregnancy infers particularly high risks for the development of severe illness in mothers to be. Pregnancy related changes in our immune systems make pregnant women at higher risk for developing severe complications of the flu, such as pneumonia, respiratory distress and even death. In the 2009 pandemic of the H1N1 influenza virus, 5% of deaths occurred in pregnant women, though pregnant women accounted for only 1% of the U.S. population. The CDC and ACOG strongly advise pregnant women to receive the flu vaccine, noting its safety in all trimesters of pregnancy.
If you’re pregnant, be sure to get your flu vaccine. The most common symptoms of the flu are fever, cough, nasal congestion, sore throat, headache, shortness of breath and muscle aches. Be sure to contact your health care provider if you’re experiencing any symptoms of the flu.