WASHINGTON — 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.
More from TODAY.com
Maroon 5 performs ‘Maps’ live on TODAY
The superstar band performs the lead single from their new album “V” live on the TODAY Show plaza.
- 'I am going home!' Watch cancer patient's touching reaction to going home
- Alleged photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton leak
- Are you One Direction's best fan ever? Show us why!
- Four amputee veterans experience baby boom together
- Maroon 5 performs ‘Maps’ live on TODAY
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.
Don't miss these Health stories
More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?
Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 perce...
- Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
- Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
- CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
- What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says
- More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?
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.