1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 9/15/2010 8:55:34 AM ET 2010-09-15T12:55:34

Flu season may not sound as scary for pregnant women this year as last — but they're still at high risk and need that shot, says a letter being mailed to thousands of health providers this week from some leading medical societies.

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. Savannah Guthrie, baby Vale send adorable birthday wishes to Al Roker

      New mom Savannah Guthrie welcomed baby Vale a week ago today. But only being a week old hasn't stopped baby Vale from wish...

    2. Expansive Telluride mountain retreat grew out of past
    3. Leonardo DiCaprio fights 'carbon monster' in new eco-documentary
    4. Dear celebrities, please stop straightening your hair!
    5. Billy Crystal to honor Robin Williams during Emmy Awards

Any kind of flu is risky during pregnancy, for mother and baby. But last year's swine flu pandemic brought extra attention to the need for vaccination: Government data shows pregnant women account for only 1 percent of the population but represented 5 percent of swine flu deaths.

This year brings a return to the usual one-dose flu vaccine, which will protect against a return of that swine flu strain as well as two other flu types.

Women often are reluctant to take medications during their pregnancies and many obstetricians don't offer flu vaccine in their own offices, preferring that their patients get it elsewhere.

Explain the importance of vaccination to pregnant woman and help them find a shot, says Wednesday's letter to physicians and other health providers from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and eight other medical groups.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?
      Splash News

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 perce...

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

The only caveat is the type of vaccine: An influenza shot — the kind made with killed virus — is safe during any trimester of pregnancy, the letter stresses. Pregnant women aren't supposed to receive the nasal spray vaccine FluMist, made with a live but weakened virus.

New moms, even if they're breastfeeding, can choose either vaccine, the letter says.

And an extra benefit: Vaccinated "pregnant women pass on their immunity, protecting babies until they are old enough to receive their own vaccinations," said Dr. Jennifer Howse, president of the March of Dimes, who co-signed the letter.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

More on TODAY.com

  1. Nicole Tung / freejamesfoley.org via AP file

    Journalist James Foley's parents 'haunted' by how he died

    8/20/2014 7:35:14 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T19:35:14
  1. Cindy Ord / Getty Images

    6 things I wish I knew before getting a dog

    8/20/2014 5:25:06 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T17:25:06
  1. Savannah Guthrie via Twitter

    Savannah Guthrie, baby Vale send adorable birthday wishes to Al Roker

    8/20/2014 6:43:47 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T18:43:47
  1. Getty Images

    Dear celebrities, please stop straightening your hair!

    8/20/2014 8:31:41 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T20:31:41