Pregnant women are urged to participate in National Influenza Vaccination Week

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Pregnancy and flu
Getting the flu shot doesn't only protect mom, it protects her unborn baby.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- It's National Influenza Vaccination Week and while doctors urge all of us to get the flu shot each fall in anticipation for the winter flu season, pregnant women need to take the flu shot the most seriously.

Getting the flu shot doesn't only protect mom, it protects her unborn baby.

As an adult, Lauren Sotomayor never got the flu shot.

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"I was the person who thought you should get it but never got around to taking it," says Sotomayor.

But this year, there was no putting it off.

"It was kind of not even an option. It was, 'Well, you need to get a flu shot because of all the risks associated with getting the flu while you are pregnant.'"

Yesenia Blancas, M.D., is an OB-GYN affiliated with Memorial Hermann Memorial City and Assistant Professor at the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

She says what most people think is just a cough, runny nose and fever could land them in the hospital and even cause them to die from the flu.

That's a risk she won't take with her pregnant patients.

"Pregnant women are a group at higher risk from getting these complications from the flu. The immune system changes during pregnancy, and because of that, they can have more complications from it," says Dr. Blancas.

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"Whenever we get the flu vaccine, it creates an immune response in the mom and that immune response gets transferred to the baby, so when the baby is born, the baby has an immunization against the flu. That's very important because at birth, they are way too young to get the vaccine, so by giving mom the vaccine, they are able to get protected," says Dr. Blancas.

And gives moms like Sotomayor some piece of mind.

"There's so many things to worry about with it being winter and the holidays and everyone being sick, and I'm really excited that getting the flu won't be something I'm stressing about."