Swine Flu Vaccine And Pregnancy

While pregnant women have been deemed to be at high risk for contracting swine flu, it isn't at all clear to officials how many will be lining up for the vaccine. 6% of all US deaths from swine flu were pregnant women who succumbed to the flu strain which has reached pandemic proportions. However, only 15% of pregnant women get ordinary flu shots in season, so it's impossible to predict how many will ask to be vaccinated for swine flu.

Many pregnant women fear flu vaccinations because of their concern about possible health risks to their unborn children. Research studies have shown that the vaccines pose no danger to developing fetuses, but women continue to express concern and avoid annual flu vaccines while pregnant.

Reluctant Patients

Vanderbilt University flu expert, Dr. William Schaffner explains that the difficulty in overcoming the reluctance of pregnant patients toward getting flu shots plus the expenses incurred in purchasing and storing the vaccines have caused physicians to refrain from offering them to their pregnant patients. "Obstetricians are only now getting with the program and are growing comfortable with administering flu vaccine," he said.

Given this background, it's hard to predict the upcoming demand for swine flu vaccine among pregnant women.

As of this time, pregnant women haven't expressed undue concern about swine flu, according to Dr. Denise Jamieson, an epidemiologist from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who also works as an obstetrician. Jamieson treats inner-city obstetric patients at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. "It hasn't been a major concern," says Jamieson, who says his patients see swine flu as an inconsequential illness, much like a bad cold. His patients are more worried about finances, and other issues like, "how to take care of the baby, how to get food to eat and how to get safe and secure housing," says he.

300 Deaths

Up until now, swine flu has been contracted by over 1 million Americans. This is according to the latest CDC statistics. The CDC further reports that at least 300 deaths have been caused by swine flu.

US experts will begin testing swine flu vaccines on human volunteers in August 2009 and hope to have 160 million doses ready by October. But efforts to produce an effective vaccine are threatened by 6 cases of Tamiflu-resistant swine flu, occurring worldwide. Japan has just now reported a third case of Tamiflu-resistant swine flu. The flu victim had been treated with Tamiflu in order to prevent infection. This is according the office of the Tokushima prefect, which issued a statement to this effect on July 28th, adding that the virus does not appear to have been contracted by anyone else in the area.

In past years, Tamiflu has been blamed for causing resistant viruses, including strains of seasonal influenza. Canada, Hong Kong, and Denmark have each reported one case of Tamiflu-resistant swine flu.

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