Photo caption: Amy, her partner, son and nephew, at their baby shower.
“It was a no-brainer for me,” says Amy Leung, a Richmond resident in her third trimester of pregnancy. “I don’t want to get sick, but just as important, I don’t want my unborn son to get sick either. Newborn babies are so fragile and susceptible to picking up infections. This is something I can do now to protect him once he’s born.”
VCH doctors recommend women who are pregnant to get the flu shot. When given during pregnancy, it’s been shown to protect both the mother and her developing baby from serious flu-related complications. Pregnant women are more prone to developing severe illness from flu— which can lead to hospitalization or even death—due to changes in the heart, lungs and immune system during pregnancy. A pregnant woman who gets the flu also has a greater chance that her baby will suffer premature labor and delivery.
“Anecdotally we aren’t seeing as many pregnant women getting vaccinated. That’s a shame because pregnant women and infants are at a higher risk for complications and hospitalization from flu,” says Dr. Meena Dawar, medical health officer. “If women are vaccinated during pregnancy, the baby is born with some flu antibodies that will help protect them from flu for up to six months after birth. This is important because babies younger than six months can't get vaccinated yet, but they are at high risk of being hospitalized from the flu.”
Another way to protect baby after birth is for all of the baby's caregivers and close contacts (including siblings, grandparents and babysitters) to also be immunized.
Flu shots are free for pregnant moms and their household contacts (ie partner, son or daughter).