This week through December 14th, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has geared up for this year’s National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) and we were excited to chat one-on-one with Dr. Danny Avula who servers s the Deputy Director for the Richmond City Health District about the concerns, issues and hesitations – among pregnant women – as well as African American women on flu vaccinations and more.
After a brief hello and how are you’s, Dr. Avula and I were able to get right into what mattered most – creating a healthy mindset and how to safeguard against the flu. When we asked Dr. Avula is it safe for pregnant women to get vaccinated he declared ‘absolutely’.
And when we asked him “doesn’t the flu shot give you the flu?” – which believe it or not is a common question. We being human, sometimes self-diagnosis and come up with all sorts of symptoms – and we jump right to – oh we have the flu. There are several symptoms that cause the flu and a true virus really would knock you out for 4-5 days. Thus a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine). The most common side effects from the influenza shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur.
In a recent Internet panel survey conducted in April 2013 among a total of 1,702 women who were pregnant at any time during October 2012 through January 2013 showed influenza vaccination coverage for pregnant women remains consistent for the third year in a row. Coverage among women who were pregnant during the 2012-13 influenza season was 50.5%, similar to the 47% coverage estimate for the 2011-12 influenza season.
Health care providers play a key role in increasing influenza vaccination coverage among pregnant women. A provider recommendation combined with an offer to administer the influenza vaccination at the time of visit remains one of the best ways to increase influenza vaccination among pregnant women.