Influenza vaccination crucial during pregnancy
India continues to face the threat of influenza (flu) with the number of cases increasing day by day. Data shows that influenza contributes to 5-10...
India continues to face the threat of influenza (flu) with the number of cases increasing day by day. Data shows that influenza contributes to 5-10 per cent of all Acute Lower Respiratory Infections (ALRI) such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis, leading to an upsurge in hospitalisations and even deaths.
Erratic climate conditions, overcrowding, poor sanitation and lack of awareness and misconceptions about the disease is adding on to the disease burden. Amongst the high risk groups, there is a gradual rise in vaccination only amongst children. However, even though pregnant women are also a high-risk group, unfortunately, they are not always advised to take this crucial vaccination.
Pregnant women face an increased risk of flu complications because of the changes in their immune system. The complications include pneumonia, ear infections, worsening of pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart and kidney problems and can lead to hospitalisation,.
Influenza can also lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as babies with a low birth weight, premature deliveries, emergency caesarean, still births and neonatal deaths. Dr Shanta Kumari, secretary, Indian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ICOG) says, “Given the growing incidences of flu cases in the country, people have become aware of flu related complications.
However, there is still a need to create further awareness amongst high risk groups, especially pregnant women to get vaccinated against influenza every year. Influenza epidemic is erratic and contagious and can be potentially dangerous for the mother and the baby. In order to avoid severe health related complications, it is best to vaccinate, with the newest existing strains of the vaccine (as per WHO recommendations).”
Seasonal influenza is characterized by a sudden onset of high fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise (feeling unwell), sore throat and runny nose. Most recover from fever and other symptoms within a week without needing medical attention.