As surprising as it may be, vaccines continue to stir controversy in the media and ire among people who are against it. Vaccinating has become a contentious topic, frustrating doctors and medical professionals to no end. It also frustrates those who are pro-vaccine, as well as those who benefit from others getting vaccinated. That's because when vaccination rates become too low, bad things can happen.
According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are low vaccination rates in pregnant women. In 2018, only 35 percent of pregnant women received vaccines for both whooping cough and the flu. This can put both the mom-to-be and their unborn baby at risk of severe illness.
"Immune systems are not as strong during pregnancy. So things like the flu will affect a pregnant person a whole lot worse than it would anyone else walking down the street. Rates of death, rates of intensive care unit admission, pneumonia, all of these things are much higher in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women. And of course, with the baby on board, as we like to say, that makes things even a little more dicey," explained Dr. Joseph Chang, Associate Chief Medical Officer at Parkland Hospital System.
"Whooping cough is dangerous even in non-pregnant individuals and people with perfectly intact immune systems. The mortality rate for pertussis is not insignificant, and in pregnant people, you can multiply that by many, many fold," Dr. Chang added.
With such risks highly likely to hurt a pregnant woman and/or her baby, why would anyone wish to skip such vital vaccinations? Dr. Chang rationalizes that fear is the main reason for this. For example, there's a myth that the flu vaccine is made up of a live version of this virus. However, that's simply untrue. It's a dead virus with its components having been separated chemically.
So yes, it's incredibly important for a pregnant woman to get properly vaccinated. But that's not enough to keep you and your baby safe. Any family members that will come into contact with you during or after your pregnancy should be vaccinated if they haven't already done so. That way, you can protect yourself and your baby as much as possible. Your little one especially will appreciate it!