Will mom's flu shot hurt unborn baby?

Editor's Note: This column appears in Wednesdays throughout the flu season. Readers interested in knowing more about this topic are urged to visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu or www.flu.gov

Q: I am pregnant and the CDC says I should get the H1N1 vaccine. Am I putting my baby at risk?

A: Pregnant women are considered high priority by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because compared with other people who get H1N1, you are more likely to be hospitalized, have serious illness and/or die. Thus, it is important for you to get the vaccine.

There is no evidence that flu shots harm fetuses. There is evidence, however, that flu shots protect both mother and baby. Research has found that babies born to mothers who had a flu shot in pregnancy get sick with flu less often than do babies whose mothers did not get a flu shot.

You and others who will reside with your new baby will fall into another high priority group, specifically "household contacts and caregivers for children under the age of 6 months." Infants under 6 months are not advised to receive flu vaccine, so the strategy is to build a "cocoon of protection" around your baby comprised of vaccinated people.

Additionally, breastfeeding could be helpful in protecting your baby from H1N1. The CDC advises that "By breastfeeding, mothers can pass on to the infant the antibodies that their bodies make in response to the flu shots, which can reduce the infant's chances of getting sick with the flu."


Who: For those in high priority groups: pregnant women, people ages 6 months to 24 years old, caregivers of infants younger than 6 months of age, healthcare workers and EMTs, adults age 24-64 with underlying medical conditions.

Where: Carson City Health and Human Services, 900 E. Long St.

When: Mondays 1-4:30 p.m. Mondays. 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. Thursdays.

Cost: Free

For Youth/Students:

Douglas County Elementary Schools: Nov. 16, 18

Creative Garden Day Care: Nov. 19

Little Tykes Too Day Care: Nov. 19

Sierra Crest School Minden: Nov. 20

Faith Christian School Gardnerville: Nov. 20

Little Knights and Maidens Day Care: Nov. 20

Carson High School: Nov. 23, 24

Western Nevada College Day Care and Students: Nov. 24

Small Blessings Day Care: Nov. 30

Carson City Elementary Schools (2nd dose): Dec. 2, 3

Saint Teresa of Avila School (2nd Dose): Dec. 4

Classroom on Wheels Bus: Dec. 4

Shelly Belly's Day Care: Dec. 7

Linda's Nursery: Dec. 7

Lyon County Elementary Schools (2nd dose): Dec. 8 and 9 (tentative)

Southern Lyon Middle and High Schools: Dec. 10 (tentative)

Sunflower Day Care (2nd dose): Dec. 11

Sunshine and Rainbows Day Care (2nd dose): Dec. 11

Douglas County Elementary Schools (2nd dose): Dec. 15 and 16

Little Tykes Too Day Care (2nd dose): Dec. 21

Some physicians and health care providers in the community have received supplies of the vaccine. People who fall into the priority groups can contact their health care provider to see if the vaccine is available.

• Pam Graber is the public information officer for Carson City Health and Human Services.


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