“Hey Doc, should I get a flu shot? I never get sick.”
This is a common question I get this time of year. The answer is yes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both recommend that anyone who is going to be pregnant during flu season gets immunized. Flu season typically runs between October through May in the US.
Why is this is so important? Pregnant women have a weakened immune system that makes them more at risk of serious complications. Women that are pregnant make up only 1% of the population. They are generally a healthy population. Yet 5% of all flu related deaths in 2009 were pregnant women! That is a scary statistic.
Children under 6 months are not eligible for the flu shot. The best way to protect these young infants is maternal vaccination. There is also data that shows an increased risk of preterm labor in those that get the flu while pregnant.
I promise that you will not get the flu from immunization! It is an inactive virus (pregnant women are not eligible for the mist). This year there are several new versions including one for those that have an allergy to egg (previous contraindication). So yes, even if you never get sick, go get that flu shot early in the season!
John Thoppil, MD, FACOG practices at River Place Ob/Gyn PA in Austin, TX