People in close contact with pregnant women and/or young children should also be vaccinated, experts advise. And if and when a pregnant woman develops flu-like symptoms, medical attention should be sought immediately.
In its national effort to raise awareness of such pregnancy-specific flu risks, the March of Dimes is joined by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Pharmacists Association, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For his part, Dr. Pascal James Imperato, dean and distinguished service professor of the School of Public Health at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in New York City, praises the effort to draw attention to the particular threat the flu virus poses in pregnant women.
"We discovered in the last influenza season that many pregnant women were not aware of this need," he noted. "And also their obstetricians were not aware. And part of the reason is that pregnant women were not traditionally listed among the high-risk groups, such as people 65 and older, and individuals with any chronic debilitating health complication requiring ongoing health care," Imperato explained.
"Health care providers and those providing critical services -- such as firefighters and police -- were later added to the list, but it's only in the last couple of years that we added pregnant women," Imperato noted. "Because of the physiological changes that take place in their bodies that make [pregnant women] more vulnerable . . . it's very critical that they get immunized."
On another note, this year, adults seeking immunization will need just one flu shot, as opposed to the two tha
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