Friday Flu Shot: Protect Two
So it’s January, and even though you may not know anyone who has suffered with the flu yet, that doesn’t mean you’ve escaped the illness this year.
The flu is very unpredictable. While flu activity historically peaks in the U.S. in January or February, sometimes seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May. And since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop an immune response, it’s best to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
While it’s recommended that everyone six months of age and older be vaccinated, it’s important to realize that there are specific groups that are at a greater risk of flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. Sometimes, people in these high risk groups are note even aware of the severe risks that influenza poses to them.
Take for instance pregnant women. Due to changes in their immune system during pregnancy, as well as in their heart and lungs, pregnant women are more prone to severe illness from flu. Not only could the flu impact a mother’s health, but influenza can also pose a serious problems for the unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery. And since children younger than 6 months are still quite fragile and at high risk for serious flu-related complications, it’s important to safeguard them from influenza as best we can. Since these infants can’t get vaccinated or take antiviral drugs, their best protection comes from the antibodies they receive from their vaccinated mother.
Unfortunately, no one ever suggested that I be immunized for influenza when I was pregnant. I was lucky that I never had complications during my own five pregnancies. However, with the information we now have, combined with the accessibility and availability of safe and effective vaccines, it is important that we get the word out. Pregnant women can protect themselevs and their unborn children from influenza with a simple vaccination during any term of pregnancy.
For more information, check out this great Protect Two From the Flu website from the state of Texas. It’s specifically designed to address the importance of influenza immunization for pregnant women. You can even send your expectant friends an ecard to show them how much you care. Here’s what mine said:
“I’m so proud of you for doing everything possible to stay strong and healthy through your pregancy. Just in case you forgot (those pregnancy hormones can certainly mess with the memory) I just wanted to send this little reminder to get your flu vaccine. There’s still time and you’ll not only be protecting yourself, but you’ll be passing on immunity to your baby to help her through those fragile months of infancy. One day that precious child will thank you!”