Never thought of yourself as high-risk, health wise? If you're pregnant during flu season, consider yourself on the list. And, if it's been years since you've had the flu—that classic seasonal illness that brings on the "I feel like I've been hit by a truck how can anything hurt thismuch" symptoms of fever, aching muscles and extraordinary fatigue—the time is now to take action to keep you and your baby healthy.
Here's why: About one in five people—adults and children—get the flu each year. You might tough it out at home or you might find yourself one of the more than 200,000 people hospitalized each year with flu-related complications, such as dehydration, bacterial or viral pneumonia, infections of the brain and spinal cord, Reye syndrome and heart conditions, as well as seizures in children. If you have a chronic health condition like congestive heart failure, asthma or other lung diseases, or diabetes, you're particularly susceptible to complications.
Then there's the simple—but scary—fact that every year about 36,000 people in the United States die from the flu.
A Little Prevention Goes a Long Way
Like most viral diseases, the flu is highly contagious. Unlike the common cold, however, there's a relatively simple, easy, safe way to prevent the flu: an annual vaccine.
Maybe you think you don't need a vaccine because you're young and healthy and don't work in day-care centers or nursing homes. Or maybe you think you shouldn't get a vaccine because you're pregnant.
Unless you're severely allergic to eggs, had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past or currently have a fever, you should get vaccinated. Even if you're young and healthy, a flu vaccine is important. One study found that healthy working adults receiving the vaccine had 43 percent fewer sick days from work. Since many companies are cutting back on sick days, that's a good benefit!
When you're pregnant (or soon plan to be) during flu season, you should get vaccinated.