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Prioritize Pregnant Women to Get Swine Flu Shot, Experts Say
Date:7/29/2009

As CDC recommendations loom, new study confirms this group at great risk,,

WEDNESDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- As U.S. officials meet Wednesday to decide who should get priority for potentially scarce H1N1 swine flu shots this fall, the danger the virus poses to pregnant women should vault that group to the top of the list, experts say.

A panel convened by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to release its recommendations on vaccine distribution priorities later on Wednesday. Beyond that, the first trials of a vaccine against the new H1N1 swine flu are set to begin soon, and experts hope for the first batch of viable shots to be distributed by October, if all goes well.

"The panel will get an update on the H1N1 in the United States," said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner. "They will get an update on where things stand with the development of a vaccine against novel H1N1 and an update on the steps being taken to plan for a potential vaccination campaign in the fall."

But a study published in the July 29 issue of The Lancet should weigh heavily on the CDC panel's decision. It confirmed that pregnant women are at especially high risk of complications from the new flu strain.

"Pregnant women who have been infected with H1N1 influenza have had a higher rate of hospitalization, about a fourfold increase compared with the general population and a higher proportion than expected of the deaths were among pregnant women," noted study author Dr. Denise J. Jamieson, a CDC medical officer.

Based on those findings, "I would expect that pregnant women will continue to be a high-priority group for vaccination," Jamieson said, so pregnant women who get the H1N1 flu should receive prompt treatment with antiviral medications.

In fact, the first American to die from the H1N1 strain, 33-year-old Judy Trunnell of Texas, fell ill while in late-stage pregnancy. She died May 5 a
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