It’s almost like a tidal wave, this outpouring of fear and misinformation regarding flu vaccines. I hope to provide evidence-based data for people to review and provide a basis for a well-informed discussion. Here’s an update: regarding pregnant women, every reputable public health agency is not just recommending but strongly recommending that all pregnant women get both seasonal as well as H1N1 vaccine (when/if available). I highly recommend that people read these updated position papers from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (November 9th):
- Pregnant Women and the Flu: FactSheet (pdf) – essential reading
- Urgent ACOG letter to ob/gyn doctors – urging vaccination
- Urgent CDC/ACOG/AMA/AAFP letter to ob/gyn doctors – again, urging vaccination
Here is ACOG’s summary on the “Safety of Flu Vaccines”:
Some pregnant women are concerned about the safety of the 2009 H1N1 ﬂ u and seasonal ﬂ u vaccines. Both ﬂ u vaccines are safe. Vaccination is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself and your baby. Vaccination is safe for you and your baby. Both shots protect your baby from getting the ﬂ u. Your baby cannot get the ﬂu shot until 6 months of age. The seasonal ﬂu vaccine has been given safely to millions of pregnant women over the past 45 years. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. The 2009 H1N1 ﬂu vaccine is made the same way as the seasonal ﬂu vaccine. The type of mercury used in some vaccines has not been shown to be harmful to a pregnant woman or her unborn baby. Mercury has not been found to cause autism. However, if you are still concerned, there is an H1N1 shot without mercury [may or may not be available in your area]. The risk for a pregnant woman and her unborn baby of getting sick with the ﬂu is far greater than being vaccinated.
If you did not get the ﬂu vaccines during pregnancy, you should still get them even if you are breastfeeding. This will help prevent you and your baby from getting the ﬂu.
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