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Pregnant women urged to receive flu vaccine

LEXINGTON­ — To the list of dos and don’ts for pregnancy, add another “do” — get a flu shot.

“I advise all pregnant women in any trimester to get the influenza vaccine (flu shot) because it is safe and flu in pregnancy can be deadly,” said Dr. Bradley Youkilis, OB-GYN with Baptist Health Medical Group Women’s Care Lexington.

Baptist Health Urgent Care and Express Care locations offer a no-appointment option for getting a flu shot. Shots, which cost $40, without insurance, are now available. Most insurance does cover the cost of the flu shot. Local Urgent Care and Express Care locations are Baptist Health Urgent Care, 610 E. Brannon Road, Nicholasville.

The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released findings that getting the vaccine reduces a pregnant woman’s risk of hospitalization from flu by an average of 40 percent.

Other studies also indicate a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect the baby from flu for several months after birth, before he or she is old enough for vaccination.

The CDC recommends pregnant women get a flu shot because they are at high risk of developing flu illness serious enough to require hospitalization.

“Because the flu shot is not 100 percent protective, pregnant women who get the shot should also practice good hand hygiene and avoid being around sick people as much as possible,” Youkilis said.

One caution: pregnant women should not receive the nasal spray vaccine, as it contains a live virus.

Only about half of pregnant women in the United States report getting a flu shot. More than 80 percent of pregnancies overlap with flu season, underscoring the likelihood pregnant women will be exposed to flu at some point during their pregnancy.