Monday, September 21, 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine and Pregnancy

There are currently very many questions about just how effective the new H1N1 vaccine will be, seeing as how it has not yet been effectively been tested and it is a new vaccine for a fairly new illness. One of the rising areas of speculation concerns just how effective this vaccine will be and how many side effects it will have in pregnant women. Pregnant women already have so many concerns and precautions to take to assure they have a safe and healthy pregnancy in the first place, that the issue of this new H1N1 vaccine is only making matters more complicated. While it may seem that the vaccine is effective, there has yet to be published results stating what effects the vaccine has on pregnant women and their unborn children: and as a result there is currently a state of confusion about what these women should do.

According to NPR's Health Correspondent Richard Knox, " The swine flu vaccines are not specifically approved for pregnant women. But neither are ordinary seasonal flu vaccines. The reason, says FDA, is that the agency doesn't specifically approve most adult drugs for categories of adults, such as pregnant adults. If you look at the fine print on seasonal flu vaccine labels, you'll see language like this: 'It is not known whether (this vaccine) can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproduction capacity. (This vaccine) should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed.' This doesn't sound very reassuring, and it may be one reason why many obstetricians have not urged their pregnant patients to get seasonal flu vaccines."

While the CDC normally recommends that pregnant women get the seasonal flu shot, the fact of the matter is that only about 15% of pregnant women get it yearly, which is probably why this year the CDC is strongly recommending that they receive this H1N1 vaccine.

Personally, I do not know whether recommending, let alone strongly recommending, these women to receive a vaccine which has yet to be effectively tested on women during their pregnancies is a good idea. There are qualms about the effectiveness of the vaccine in itself, and not knowing whether it could cause a fatal side effect in women who are pregnant makes a logical argument to me that it should not be strongly recommended until more results are put out. But hey, that's just the opinion of a young college student who has yet to go through medical school.

Here's a video from CNN that concerns the new H1N1 vaccine and Pregnancy

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