Two unvaccinated pregnant women hospitalized with flu complications

SAN DIEGO – Two pregnant women in San Diego County have been hospitalized due to flu complications, the county’s Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.

A 40-year-old woman spent 16 days in the intensive care unit and a 30-year-old woman spent nine days in the ICU. Both women were unvaccinated, in their third trimesters and contracted influenza A. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women have some of the highest risk of developing flu complications if they remain unvaccinated.

“That is why they’re one of the groups for which vaccination is extremely important,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “Changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women (and women up to two weeks after delivery) more susceptible to severe illness from the flu, which could require hospitalization.”

Officials from the CDC and the Health and Human Services Agency suggest that pregnant women receive the flu vaccine at any point in their pregnancy. However, the nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.

Flu cases in the county ticked up during the week of Dec. 9-15, according to the county’s weekly influenza report. Confirmed flu cases totaled 290 compared to 199 the previous week. The county’s overall total of confirmed flu cases is at 940, well behind the 1,641 cases at this time last flu season.

Everyone 6 months or older is recommended to get the flu vaccine each year. In addition to pregnant women, health officials strongly advise the vaccination for people with a heightened risk of serious flu complications, like people older than 65 and people with chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes.

County residents can get vaccinated at doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, community clinics and the county’s public health centers. Residents can also call 2-1-1 or visit the county’s immunization program website, sdiz.com, for a list of county locations administering free vaccines.

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