Pregnancy And Swine Flu Vaccine

The unfortunate fact is that pregnant women have been hit harder than most by swine flu. Of all the deaths attributed to the flu since the pandemic started back in April of 2009, 6% of them have been pregnant women. The figure is even more significant when you consider that pregnant women make up only 1% of the total US population.  Because of this, it has been recommended that all pregnant women go have a swine flu shot in the fall of 2009.

Vaccine Advisors

On July 29, a panel of federal vaccine advisors was to meet to decide on who will be at the top of the list to receive the vaccine if supplies are not sufficient to cover everyone. One thing is certain: health care workers will jump to the top of the list; since their skills are all the more critical to society should the pandemic grow to larger proportions. But pregnant women will likely be close to the top of the list, since they have been affected by the flu in disproportionate numbers. Dr. Denise Jamieson, an epidemiologist from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elaborates, "Are they more at risk for severe disease? That's the issue," and experts have come to believe they are.

Europe's Buzzing

Europe has been buzzing with talk about the pregnant woman's risk for swine flu, and some British and Swiss officials have advised women to think about putting off conception for the meantime, if at all possible. This has created a great deal of contention since many health officials don't feel that such advice is warranted. For one thing, pandemics can have staying power, in many cases lasting beyond one year. But all the experts are in agreement that the risks of swine flu to the health of pregnant women are significant. According to a recent report issued by the World Health Organization, pregnant women were deemed to be, "at increased risk for severe disease, potentially resulting in spontaneous abortion and/or death, especially during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy."

Even so, WHO has not gone so far as to recommend that pregnant women go to the top of the list for vaccinations. Meantime, physicians await the decision of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices whose advice is generally accepted by the CDC, the US medical community and US health insurers.

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