WHO recommends vaccination of high-risk individuals including pregnant women against influenza infection.
During pregnancy, common vaccination is for tetanus. Now influenza vaccine is being recommended by the obstetricians. That’s because if you catch influenza (or commonly known as flu) when you are expecting, your risks are increased so much so to get you hospitalised.
Due to hormonal changes, pregnancy is a period of low immunity. Pregnancy itself is a risk factor for infections, especially pregnant woman in late gestation are at high risk or women with any other underlying medical disease. To ensure that fetus is not rejected as a foreign body, the immunity system of the body suppresses. Hence pregnant females are at high risk of catching infections like viral/ cold. Some infections can be harmful to mother as well as the fetus like swine flu or influenza.
A flu shot during pregnancy serves two purposes, it helps protect you against getting the flu or from developing serious complications in case of exposure and it can actually help protect your baby too after birth, till she becomes six months old to get the vaccination him/herself.
To protect pregnant women against influenza, vaccination is now being recommended. Symptoms for influenza commonly develop within 1 week of exposure and the patient is contagious for 8 days thereafter. The disease spreads very quickly in crowded places and in cold dry weather, people may become infected by touching/handling something contaminated with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose
WARNING SIGNS FOR FLU
Less severe cases can present with symptoms of acute respiratory illness like fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion or symptoms fatigue/ headache/muscle pain/ malaise or diarrhoea with or without vomiting. The disease may progress and can lead to severe complications increasing risk of hospitalization like dyspnea, hypoxia, pneumonia, CNS involvement (encephalopathy, encephalitis), severe dehydration, exacerbation of any underlying medical illness
WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS?
- Spontaneous abortion and premature rupture of membranes leading to preterm labour.
- Fetal distress/intrauterine death
- Increase emergency Caesarean-sections
- There is not much information on whether this virus is transmitted to the fetus via the placenta. But it can indirectly affect the fetus possibly from high fever. hyperthermia in early pregnancy has been associated with neural tube defects and other congenital anomalies and fever during labor/ birth is a risk factor for neonatal seizures, newborn encephalopathy, cerebral palsy and death.
Early treatment is recommended for women especially in the 3rd trimester and those presenting with fever since they are at the high risk of serious outcomes. if a pregnant patient delivers while infected with flu, she should be separated from her infant immediately after delivery. she should avoid close contact with her infant until she has been on antiviral medications for at least 48 hours, her fever has resolved and she can control her coughing and secretions.