Monday, August 17, 2009

Pregnant During the Swine Flu Pandemic

I’ve been following the news of the Swine Flu (aka H1N1) vaccine with added interest this year. I’m pregnant and therefore am in one of the highest risk factor groups and a priority group for the vaccine.

Last year, I didn’t really buy into the Swine Flu hysteria. I didn’t stay home. I didn’t keep my three year old son home. Yeah, maybe we washed our hands a bit more often (I’m a huge proponent of hand washing anyway. OCD? Just a tad.) but we didn’t vary our routines.

I get the flu shot every year. I’ve made sure my son gets it each year as well. (I encourage my husband, but he’s on his own to actually see the doctor!)

But, I’ll be honest, this year it’s all giving me a bit of pause.

A recent study by the Center for Disease Controls found that once pregnant women get Swine Flu, they are more likely to have severe complications. In fact, we're four times more likely to need hospitalization for swine flu. Well, that tells me that I should get the vaccine as soon as possible.

Yet, NPR, my main source of news, reports that the virus being used to grow the H1N1 vaccine is growing more slowly than expected. That means there may not be enough vaccine to go around by October when the pandemic flu comes back around to the northern hemisphere. And, at the same time, the regular ole seasonal flu will be kicking off around then as well.

And, what about the safety? Again, NPR reports that 10,000 volunteers will be given the vaccine. In fact, those trials have already begun at nearby University of Maryland, but with such a tight turnaround between testing and administering the vaccine to the highest-risk groups (raises hand!) will any severe side effects be discovered?

The bottom line is that I will most likely get the vaccine. I'll talk with my doctor and keep reading and listening to all the related studies, recommendations and news reports, but I am pretty sure that the risks will outweigh the benefits. Because the greatest risk of all is to my developing baby, and that's someone I'm not willing to take any chances with.

Original post to DC Metro Moms. When Aimee Olivo isn't listening to NPR or washing her hands, she's writing at Smiling Mama and Out by Ten.

TK Meyers said...
Thanks for your informative post. I definitely will be paying attention as my husband and I are planning to be pregnant in the near future.

This has been very helpful.

Aimee Olivo said in reply to TK Meyers...
Thanks so much, TK. Best of luck to you!

Kelly said...
I am 5 weeks pregnant. I have a 2 year old. And I am driving myself crazy deciding what is best for us. There seems to be no real answer. My main thought is 1% of the popoulations pregnant which is about 3 million people and so far 15 have died from swine flu, which sucks. But that is a small precent. The questions I have the swine flu going to get worse and is that vaccine safe for me and my unborn baby? And there is no answer nor will there be in time for flu season. It is a gamble one way or the other.

Aimee Olivo said in reply to Kelly...
Thanks for your comment, Kelly. I agree that this is a very difficult decision. Since we're pregnant, we're not just making this decision for ourselves but for our unborn babies as well. Not to mention, we have to keep our the health of our toddlers in mind, too.

The study that has captured my attention most is that the US CDC is analyzing the 34 cases of pregnant women in the US who got swine flu last year. Of those, 6 died. That's a pretty high percentage and all were previously healthy.

Of course this is a very personal decision and I'll continue to read as much as I can before making a final decision. Best of luck to you as you make your decision.

L said...
I just spoke with my OB/GYN about this yesterday. I am 25 weeks (due Nov. 30 - right in flu season). He said he wasn't comfortable recommending the swine flu vaccine to me or any of his patients at this time. He said that right now, there is just not enough testing in pregnant women to alleviate his concerns. He said if more testing is done and results look good, he will re-evaluate, but for now, he wouldn't recommend it and won't stock it. I will still get the regular flu shot, but won't get the H1N1 vaccine until my doctor feels it is safe to do so.

I will speak to our pediatrician about my 17 month old daughter and my husband getting the H1N1 shots though...I think more info will be available on the safety for them than for me. Oh, and we will all get the regular flu shot as we normally do.

Aimee Olivo said in reply to L...
Thanks for your comment, L. That is very interesting and good to keep in mind.

Mom said...
I want to also add that aside from handwashing, the CDC recommends that anyone with an elevated temperature not go out in public until they are fever free for 24 hours (without the aid of fever-reducing medication). I work in a school and we often see both students and teachers coming to school with "slight" fevers. There is no way of knowing whether that fever is nothing or the beginning of something. All schools, daycare centers, and places of employment need to have a zero tolerance for anyone exhibiting even minor flu symptoms. I understand that it can be a burden to miss work for a child who may or may not be getting sick, but it is the #1 way to prevent unnecessary exposure and spreading of the virus. As a parent, I would make sure that your school or daycare center has a zero tolerance policy and plenty of thermometers and handsoap in stock!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

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