Flu vaccine more essential for pregnant women: Doctors Association

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Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday said this year’s flu vaccine is even more essential for pregnant women because of Covid-19 pandemic.

Urging pregnant women to get vaccinated against flu as soon as possible, DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement issued to a local news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) said this season’s flu vaccine is particularly important for expecting mothers.

“We could be facing a double danger of flu and Covid this fall and winter. Getting both diseases at the same time can be serious and even deadly,” he said.

“While pregnant women are less likely to get serious illness from Covid, flu can increase their chances of getting serious disease from the novel coronavirus,” he added.

The DAK President said pregnancy changes the immune system, heart and lung function that makes pregnant women more prone to severe illness from flu as well as hospitalization and even death.

“The risk of premature labor and delivery increases when expectant mothers catch the flu and there is a greater chance of birth defects and even death of a baby in the womb,” he said.

“Preventing influenza during pregnancy is an essential element of prenatal care and the most effective strategy for preventing influenza is vaccination,” Dr Hassan said.

Quoting a study, he said pregnant women who received flu vaccination were 40 percent less likely to be hospitalized during pregnancy than pregnant women who weren’t vaccinated.

“Flu vaccine in pregnancy saves infants from dying in the womb,” said Dr Hassan.

Quoting another study, he said flu vaccination was associated with 51 percent reduction in stillbirths.

Spokesperson DAK Dr Riyaz Ahmad Dagga said flu vaccine is perfectly safe for pregnant women and can be given during any stage of pregnancy.

“It is the injectable flu vaccine that should be given to pregnant women and not the nasal flu vaccine as it is made from live virus that makes it less appropriate during pregnancy,” he said.

“The power of vaccination in pregnancy is a message that should be broadcast far and wide. It is imperative that obstetricians should advocate for influenza vaccination and provide flu vaccine to their pregnant patients,” he added—(KNO)

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