PITTSBURGH - With influenza cases considered widespread in Pennsylvania, local doctors are advising pregnant women to get vaccinated.
Pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill compared to the general population, and the flu could lead to premature delivery and poor growth for the unborn child.
Dr. Richard Beigi at Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC said there is a double benefit to the flu shot.
“If mom gets vaccinated with influenza vaccine during pregnancy not only does it protect her but it also protects the newborn baby from getting the flu because the antibody the mom makes can cross into the baby’s circulation before it’s born,” Beigi said.
Beigi said that is especially important because newborns cannot get vaccinated for the flu until they are six months old.
Studies have also tested and shown that the flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women.
New figures from the Pennsylvania State Health Department show there are 1,827 influenza cases so far this season.
Allegheny County is hard hit with more than 300 cases.
Doctors worry this could be a particularly bad season since flu season generally does not peak until February or March, and we are already seeing a significant number of cases.