Flu shot study concerns pregnant women

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) New mom Toria Farley was part of an H1N1 study a couple years ago. Before that she says she never thought about getting the flu shot--even when she was pregnant.

“I've never been the type of person to get sick. So I always thought I can't get the flu, or I wouldn't get the flu,” says Toria.

Flu shots are highly recommended for pregnant women.

“The recommendations are that the pregnant patient receive the flu vaccine as early in the pregnancy as possible; at her first prenatal visit,” says Dr. Katherine McCarthy, UNR Medical School Associate Professor of Family Medicine.

But a recently-published article in the journal "Vaccine" showed a possible association between miscarriage and the flu shot.

Everyone agrees more studies need to be done to replicate these finding. Even the study's author Edward Belongia stated:

"Science is an incremental process.....very seldom does a single study provide a definitive answer that can lead to changes in recommendations."

Indeed the study has not changed CDC recommendations for pregnant women and flu shots. That recommendation: pregnant women should get the flu shot at some point during their pregnancy.

The reasons are many. Pregnant women can run a high mortality rate if they get certain types of flu. The unborn child can suffer from birth defects, prematurity or other problems if the pregnant mom runs a high temperature caused by flu.

But there's another angle. The babies themselves, once born, cannot be vaccinated for flu on their own for six months and they have a high mortality rate if they contract influenza.

“When the mother gets the vaccine, it also helps to protect the infant after the baby is born,” say Dr. McCarthy.

The best advice is check with your doctor for the most accurate information on the flu shot and pregnant women; the two of you can determine the best time for you to get a flu shot.