Pregnancy and the Flu

Pregnant women (any trimester) are considered candidates for the flu vaccine, per the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). Some flu vaccines contain a preservative, but beginning July 1 2006, California law (Health and Safety Code 124172) requires that pregnant women receive preservative free influenza vaccine.

The preservative in flu vaccines may contain trace amounts of mercury, and in some studies, although this is very controversial, mercury in vaccines may be linked to childhood autism.

Sources of flu vaccine:

  • Our office has Afluria, preservative-free flu vaccine from CSL Biotherapeutics, while supplies last.
  • Your local internist. If you do not have one, we can refer you.
  • Pasadena Public Health Dept. (626) 744-6015. (see: www.immunizepasadena.org)
  • Huntington Hospital (626) 397-5000
  • Local drug stores, county clinics, large employers and area hospitals
  • Read the newspaper, sometimes there are ads regarding flu shot clinics
  • Call the L.A. County Immunization Program for questions (213-351-7800).
  • We can provide you with a signed permission slip to receive the flu vaccine. Please call the office.

About the Flu

Normally a mild illness, influenza can be a dangerous condition in susceptible groups such as children under age 2, adults over age 65, adults with serious chronic health conditions such as AIDS or cancer, and less often, during pregnancy. This is because the flu weakens the immune system, increasing the chance that a bacterial infection such as pneumonia might occur. This is called a secondary infection, and the ultimate benefit of the flu vaccine is the prevention of secondary infections.

What is the flu?

It is a respiratory illness similar to the common cold, but with more symptoms. Fever greater than 100.4 degrees, upper respiratory symptoms such as nasal congestion, stuffiness, sore throat, cough and bodily (systemic) symptoms such as headache, fatigue, muscle aches, low back pain. It is a virus, so antibiotics are not advised unless a secondary infection is suspected. The illness typically lasts from 5 to 10 days, although in pregnant patients some symptoms can last 2 weeks or longer.