Pregnant women at higher risk for flu and are hospitalized more - WFLA News Channel 8

Pregnant women at higher risk for flu, hospitalized more often

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The emergency room at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital has seen a dramatic uptick in pregnant women with the flu.

While the flu has hit hard nationwide, most people recover at home. But for pregnant women, there are two people to worry about, and that often requires the help of a hospital.

"Most pregnant women who do get the flu do end up in the hospital because they have tendency to have higher fevers and they tend to dehydrate quicker," said Dr. Jill Hechtman, vice chair of the Department Of OGBYN at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital.

Hechtman said pregnant women, like the elderly and children, are at higher risk for the flu.

Pregnant women have suppressed immune systems, but it's the baby who's in the most danger.

"Flu vaccines in pregnancy are important for the mom to protect her but it's also very important for the baby, because when the mom gets the vaccine that gets passed on to the baby and confers immunity to them," Hechtman said. "And remember when the baby's born, for the first six months, they can't get the flu vaccine."

Hechtman says pregnant women require observation, fluids and often need a medication called Tamiflu, which shortens the length of the flu.

Hechtman blames the uptick in flu patients on unfounded fears of the flu shot.

"There are a lot of myths about the flu shot, and I think the most common one is, "if I get the flu shot, I'm going to get sick, and that's actually not true at all," Hechtman said.

Ximena Giraldo, 38 weeks pregnant, had the flu last week.

She was bedridden at home for several days, but credits her flu shot, which she gets every year, with keeping her out of the hospital.

 "If you're immune system is stronger by taking it, why not?" she said.

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