One of our patients this week at 18 weeks in her pregnancy asked us the following question,
“Should I be considering immunization for the flu (influenza)?”
We’ve previously discussed Influenza and Pregnancy in a past article, Fever, Influenza & Pregnancy, highlighting the complications and risks that influenza may have in a developing, progressing pregnancy. Certainly we want all of our patients with an unverified or verified pregnancy to seriously consider treating any fever aggressively and seeking an appointment with your family doctor or a S.O.F.T. physician if the fever has not resolved in 48 hours.
Women with chronic health conditions such as respiratory disease (asthma), diabetes (Type I, II & Gestational), obesity, immunosuppression and neurological conditions have a higher risk of complications with influenza and are recommended as a high priority group for immunization at any stage in pregnancy. Although many experts state that the true risk attributable to influenza infection is unknown all public health officials who contributed to the Statement on Seasonal Trivalent Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (TIV) for 2011-2012 confirm that the risk is great enough that women in pregnancy strongly consider vaccination to prevent complications in pregnancy.
There is certainly a lot of public debate regarding immunization in childhood, adolescence and pregnancy but medical professionals agree that the risk for serious illness is present in all high risk populations including women in pregnancy (preterm birth, hospitalization & respiratory complications).
At S.O.F.T. we will advise all patients who are pregnant to strongly consider immunization for influenza during flu season but the choice is ultimately our patients. Opinions should be sought only by medical professionals who possess a scope of practice that qualifies them on providing education, risks and benefits of immunization such as medical doctors (MD) and registered nurses (RN & RPN). If a patient is receiving an opinion from another professional we encourage you to investigate their qualifications to assess whether their scope of practice involves a competent knowledge of immunizations and effective public health strategy. A medical professional should never provide to a patient a personal opinion on immunizations/vaccinations that is a professional opinion. Our role as medical professionals is to provide education, options, risks and benefits to allow our patients to make an informed decision on their own care.
How you protect your baby and yourself is ultimately your own decision. Dr. Cathy Frank (OB/GYN) has made herself available this flu season to answer questions from our patients regarding influenza and pregnancy through an appointment at our clinic. Those considered or interested can call our reception (519-685-5559) to schedule an appointment to discuss concerns or contact the Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) at 519-663-5317 with questions on flu clinics in the London area this year.
Langley, J. et al (2010, August). Statement on Seasonal Trivalent Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (TIV) for 2010-2011. Retrieved from: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/ccdr-rmtc/10vol36/acs-6/index-eng.php