Pregnant women urged to get flu shots

Pregnant women urged to get flu shots
Falls Church, Va. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently teamed up with leaders from several health care groups to stress the importance of pregnant women getting vaccinated against the flu this year.
In a letter sent to health care professionals nationwide, the group warns of the increased risk for serious complications from influenza among pregnant women and how getting vaccinated is the single best way to protect themselves and their unborn babies.
TRICARE leaders agree and encourage all expecting beneficiaries to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza.
“Pregnant women are one of the highest, priority groups for influenza vaccination,” said Lt. Col. Susan Lahr, deputy director of the Military Vaccine Agency (MILVAX). “Hospitalization rates with influenza-like illness are often higher among pregnant women than the general population. They not only should receive the vaccine, but should be among the first people immunized.”
CDC data shows pregnant women account for only 1 percent of the population but represented 5 percent of H1N1 deaths. Even though there is no H1N1 scare this year, influenza is serious especially for pregnant women.
“Immunization is important not only for pregnant women, but also for women who may become pregnant during flu season,” Lahr said. “All potential child-bearing women have the potential for serious complications from influenza during their pregnancy.”
The letter, signed by the CDC, American Medical Association (AMA), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and seven other groups, also urges health care professionals to encourage their pregnant patients to get vaccinated and to counsel them on the safety and benefits of the vaccine.
“Advice from a physician plays a big role in patients choosing to get the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Mary Anne McCaffree, an AMA board member.
“Because pregnant women carry a heightened risk for serious complications and death from the flu, it’s even more important we take the time to educate them on the health benefits of getting vaccinated.”
McCaffree added, “The seasonal influenza vaccine shot is safe to administer to pregnant women in any trimester. Pregnant women should not receive the nasal spray version of the vaccine.”
This year’s influenza vaccine provides protection from three strains of influenza, including the 2009 H1N1 virus.
Only one shot is needed for full protection against influenza.
TRICARE covers age-appropriate doses of vaccines recommended by the CDC. Beneficiaries can visit participating TRICARE retail network pharmacies to receive seasonal flu vaccines at no cost.
To find a participating pharmacy, go to www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE or call Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303.
TRICARE regularly adds coverage for new vaccinations based on CDC recommendations.
For more information about the vaccines recommended by CDC, go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines.

WCP 9.23.10

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