Pregnancy: H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) and the H1N1 Vaccine

Pregnant women are encouraged to receive the seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine - swine flu vaccine.

Swine Flu Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Vaccination

Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

The pressure to manufacture and distribute the H1N1 vaccine before the H1N1 (swine) influenza virusbegins its autumn spread is ongoing, but so far it seems that the virus may be winning. The race, though, is far from over, but in more than 40 states, the number of people being diagnosed clinically with the "swine" flu is growing.

"Clinically" is the key word, since testing for the influenza virus is no longer recommended. Instead, health care practitioners are using history as the guide to whether H1N1 is the likely diagnosis. The most frequent symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. These are pretty non-specific complaints, but in today's setting of widespread influenza it is enough to be relatively certain that influenza is the cause? Less commonly, there may be chills, muscle aches, runny nose, sore throat, and headache. Interestingly, H1N1 also may present with vomitingand diarrhea, two symptoms that tend not to be associated with the usual influenza pattern.

This information has been archived and is no longer updated. For information on the current flu season, and pregnancy vaccine safety please see Pregnancy Flu Shot Side Effects and Safety

Pregnancy and H1N1 influenza (swine flu) introduction

These questions and answers have been updated to include new information on 2009 H1N1 flu in pregnant women. Both seasonal and 2009 H1N1 flu viruses will circulate during the 2009-2010 flu season. A pregnant woman who thinks she has the flu should call her doctor right away to see if treatment with an antiviral medicine is needed. The medicine is most helpful if it is started soon after the pregnant woman becomes sick. The latest advice for getting seasonal and 2009 H1N1 vaccines during pregnancy is also included.

What if I am pregnant and I get 2009 H1N1?

Call your doctor right away if you have flu symptoms or if you have close contact with someone who has the flu. Pregnant women who get sick with 2009 H1N1 can have serious health problems. They can get sicker than other people who get 2009 H1N1 flu. Some pregnant women sick with 2009 H1N1 have had early labor and severe pneumonia. Some have died. If you are pregnant and have symptoms of the flu, take it very seriously. Call your doctor right away for advice.

What can I do to protect myself, my baby and my family?

Getting a flu shot is the single best way to protect against the flu. Talk with your doctor about getting a seasonal flu shot and the 2009 H1N1 flu shot. You will need both flu shots this year to be fully protected against flu. You should get both shots as soon as they are available to protect you and your baby. The seasonal flu shot has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to 6 months old) from flu-like illness.

Talk with your doctor right away if you have close contact with someone who has 2009 H1N1 flu. You might need to take medicine to reduce your chances of getting the flu. Your doctor may prescribe Tamiflu® or Relenza® to help prevent 2009 H1N1 flu. To prevent flu, you would take a lower dose of the antiviral medicine for 10 days.

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