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HEALTH NEWS: Pregnant woman getting hit hard with flu

It's early in the flu season -- and one certain group of people is already getting hit hard with the dangerous virus with dire consequences.

Obstetricians here at Sacred Heart Hospital are putting out an urgent call to all pregnant women -- get a flu shot.
Pregnant women are five times more likely to catch the flu virus and many go unvaccinated.
"The peak flu season is not actually until February and we're starting to see severe pregnant women being affected by the flu."

Sacred Heart Obstetrician John  Ervin says  during pregnancy -- a woman's immune system is suppressed. So she's especially vulnerable to flu.

"Pretty severe.  We have at least three patients that have required hospitalization, early delivery and ventilator."
Ervin says his pregnant patients always ask about the risks involved.

"The flu vaccine is safe in pregnancy.  It's safe in any trimester.  If you know somebody that's pregnant, they need to get the flu shot.  Not the mist."

The mist contains a live virus  The flu shot does not.
Ervin says none of the current flu vaccines are approved for infants under six months old.  So vaccinated mothers actually pass on partial protection.  Studies show their babies have fewer respiratory and  ear infections.

"By vaccinating mom you protect that baby for the first six months of it's life through passive immunity and especially if mom breast feeds."
"Some good news. All three babies born to the moms who are seriously ill with the flu were safely delivered.  Kathryn Daniel, Channel Three News."

Pregnant women who need help getting a flu shot should call the Sacred Heart Women's Care Center at 416-7763.