Swine (H1N1) Flu Vaccine Debate Forum Community
26 Members
168348 tn?1379357075

So - there's the question of How Safe is it for those who are pregnant? Is it safe for their unborn babies?

Is it safe - do we really know with certainty the effects on babies not born yet?
23 Responses
765070 tn?1384869794
This is a question a lot of women on the pregnancy forum are thinking about.  They actually just started testing this vaccine on Pregnant women only two weeks ago, which makes me rather nervous.  I just do not know how you can tell if the vaccine is actually going to cause any issues in the long run when it is only tested such a short period of time.  It took me 12 years to decide to have another child and I really would like to make sure that my baby does not have any issues especially from a vaccine that noone truely knows much about.  
17568 tn?1424973559
Hi Chitchat9,

The following comes directly from the CDC's website and while I share your concerns, it also appears that pregnant women have been among the hardest hit by the H1N1 flu.  My guess is that each woman needs to make this decision with guidance from her personal OB/GYN

2009 H1N1 Influenza Vaccine and Pregnant Women
September 18, 2009, 2:30 PM ET

Q: Why does CDC recommend that pregnant women receive the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine?

A.  It is important for a pregnant woman to receive the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine as well as a seasonal influenza vaccine. A pregnant woman who gets any type of flu is at risk for serious complications and hospitalization.  Pregnant women who are otherwise healthy have been severely impacted by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (formerly called “novel H1N1 flu” or “swine flu”). In comparison to the general population, a greater proportion of pregnant women infected with the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus have been hospitalized.  In addition, severe illness and death has occurred in pregnant women. Six percent of confirmed fatal 2009 H1N1 flu cases thus far have been in pregnant women while only about 1% of the general population is pregnant. While hand washing, staying away from ill people, and other steps can help to protect pregnant women from influenza, vaccination is the single best way to protect against the flu.

Q: Is there a particular kind of flu vaccine that pregnant women should get?  Are there flu vaccines that pregnant women should not get?  

A.  There are two type of flu vaccine.  Pregnant women should get the "flu shot"— an inactivated vaccine (containing fragments of killed influenza virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in pregnant women.

The other type of flu vaccine — nasal-spray flu vaccine (sometimes called LAIV for “live attenuated influenza vaccine)—is not currently approved for use in pregnant women.  This vaccine is made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu). LAIV (FluMist®) is approved for use in healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.

Q. Can the seasonal influenza vaccine and the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine be given at the same time?

A. It is anticipated that seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 vaccines may be administered on the same day but given at different sites (e.g. one shot in the left arm and the other shot in the right arm). However, we expect the seasonal vaccine to be available earlier than the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine. The usual seasonal influenza viruses are still expected to cause illness this fall and winter. Pregnant women and others at increased risk of complications of influenza are encouraged to get their seasonal flu vaccine as soon as it is available.

Q:  Is the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine safe for pregnant women?

A:  Influenza vaccines have not been shown to cause harm to a pregnant woman or her baby.  The seasonal flu shot (injection) is proven as safe and already recommended for pregnant women. The 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine will be made using the same processes and facilities that are used to make seasonal influenza vaccines.

Q:  What safety studies have been done on the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine and have any been done in pregnant women?

A:  A number of clinical trials which test 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine in healthy children and adults are underway.  These studies are being conducted by the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Studies of 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine in pregnant women are expected to begin in September.

Q:  Does the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine have preservative in it?  

A: There is no evidence that thimerosal (used as a preservative in vaccine packaged in multi-dose vials) is harmful to a pregnant woman or a fetus. However, because some women are concerned about exposure to preservatives during pregnancy, manufacturers will produce preservative-free seasonal and 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccines in single dose syringes for pregnant women and small children. CDC recommends that pregnant women may receive influenza vaccine with or without thimerosal.

Q. How many doses of the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine will pregnant women need to get?

A. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of one dose of 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine for persons 10 years of age and older.

In addition to protecting pregnant women from infection, infants less than 6 months old will not be able to be vaccinated so it is recommended that everyone who lives with or provides care for infants less than 6 months of age receive both the seasonal influenza vaccine and 2009 H1N1 influenza monovalent vaccine to provide protection for the infant. One recent study conducted in Bangladesh, assessed the effectiveness of influenza immunization for mothers and their young infants. Inactivated influenza vaccine reduced proven influenza illness by 63% in infants up to 6 months of age. This study confirmed that maternal influenza immunization is a strategy with substantial benefits for both mothers and infants.
168348 tn?1379357075
Thanks so much Cindy for posting this very valuable information.  We really appreciate it and will reference those with questions to your post as each person makes up their mind.

184674 tn?1360860493
I'm still undecided about this vaccine and being pregnant, based on this statement:

"Studies of 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine in pregnant women are expected to begin in September."

So this vaccine is due for release to the public in October, and studies of it's effects on pregnant women are only going to be reviewed for a month?
I'm more likely to be convinced of the safety of a vaccine during pregnancy if studies are done on multiple pregnant women during each month of pregnancy, and then monitoring the babys' and mothers' health for a period of time after they're born to determine any short term and long term side effects.
As the regular flu vaccine has been tested over many years and proven safe to use during pregnancy, the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine is only being tested on pregnant women for a month before its release.
This just makes me wary and uneasy. I'd honestly like to consider getting this vaccine for my health and my unborn child's, but at the same time, I have a hard time putting my health, my unborn child's health, and my trust into only a month of research and study.
I'm still undecided.
17568 tn?1424973559
Thursday, October 1, 2009:   U.S. health officials (CDC) said the H1N1 virus has hit pregnant women especially hard. Since it first surfaced in April, nearly 1 in 3 pregnant women have died from the new strain.

121828 tn?1333464491
I just had my daughters 3yr well visit today and the Ped asked me if I had gotten the regular flu shot. :(  I said no and she HIGHLY recommended it. She also said I should be first in line to get the H1N1 also. I told her I was a little weirded out by it being so rushed. She said it's only a month or two ahead of when they start with the regular vaccines and not to worry.  My baby will be here in 6 1/2 weeks and I'm still on the fence. Thanks for all the helpful info though.
377493 tn?1356502149
I am 23 weeks pregnant and work with a very vulnerable population of people.  I am almost certain to be exposed to it.   I have talked in great length to my OB as well as the Dr.s I work with and all are recommending I have the vaccine.  Our organization is part of our provincial pandemic planning committee so we are getting regular updates.  Today, they advised us to get the H1N1, but not the seasonal flu vaccine.  I have decided to most defiantely get the H1N1.  My take on it is that with any medication or vaccine there will be some with adverse reactions. However, I think the risk of getting H1N1  seems to be far greater the the possible risk of side effects from the vaccine.  
765070 tn?1384869794
I am sorry but that is misinformation.  It is 700 pregnant women contracted the disease and 28 died from it.  100 where hospitalized.

What we really do not know is how many actually died from the disease or from the actual Tamiflu.  No one truely knows.  I just had the H1N1 (at least that is what the ob said without testing me) and I am just fine so is the baby.  Doctors are actually not testing people for it since it takes too long for the test results and since the risk of the infected person being around others in the doctors office and them becoming infected.  They do not even know what is going on.  They are especially scaring pregnant women into getting this vaccine.  It is something that is totally up to the individual to decide.  Not enough testing has been done on this specific vaccine especially in Pregnant women considering the fact that they only tested on pregnant women for 3 weeks.  Who knows what the effects will be on mother and child after the vaccine has been in their body after 6 months or more.  

151928 tn?1275707337
ok the post from Cindy up above has scared the living daylights out of me.  I'm 25 weeks pregnant and the swine flu vaccine isn't even available to me yet and 1 in 3 pregnant people have died from it?????  Now I'm scared to leave the house!
377493 tn?1356502149
Hmm, I don't think that's quite right.  No doubt we are a high risk group and that's why they are making the vaccine available to us first, but 1 in 3 deaths from this flu in pregnant women doesn't sound right.  I swear, I am going to not leave the house until this baby is born in January....maybe move into a plastic bubble!!
151928 tn?1275707337
I just searched the CDC website and cannot find anywhere the blurb you copied that says 1 in 3 pregnant women have died from it.  Can you please let us know the link or where  you found that?
765070 tn?1384869794
No 1 in 3 is totally wrong.  Read the post that I wrote earlier and it says 700 women 28 died.  No one knows how they died meaning is it from the flu itself or from the tamiflu.  Is it someone that already complications or possibly had other problems before the flu.  Noone truely knows.  It is all such vague information and statistics right now.  So, do not believe all that you hear and read.  
168348 tn?1379357075

I found a link that cites from the CDC--- at World News:


765070 tn?1384869794
O.k so you really need to read this article to understand that they are saying out of the 700 women that got the disease 100 were hopitalized and 28 out of the 100 that were hospitalized in Intesive care unit died.  The 1 in 3 comes from the latter not the entire population of pregnant women that actually got the disease.  See, the way that Cindy wrote this was that 1 in 3 women will die.  This needs to be clear to everyone so that noone panics and gets themself all upset about it.  And this type of misinformation that was written by Cindy needs to be cleared up or people are going to be frantic or extremly concerned about it.  

And also they are explaining if the pregnant woman comes down with pneumonia they are experiencing severe problems.  But, they do not say anything about if these women had the Tamiflu and were treated.  They just explain that women who get the Pneumonia from the flu have serious complications.  We'll that tells me that they are not getting the care that they truely need.  So, yes we need to be concerned that we are vigilant about our surroundings but to panic about it or to give just little bits of info and misinformation is not helping at all.  Sometimes, we need to just stop watching and reading the news.  No wonder everyone is so worried about this.  
377493 tn?1356502149
I honestly don't know all the stats, so I can't comment here one way or the other.  I do know that they are highly concerned about pregnant women.  I have had several (medical) opinions now and all are recommending the H1N1 vaccine for pregnant women.  I was at another pandemic meeting today and again it came up. I have 100% made up my mind.  I'm going ahead.  For me it's all about which poses the greater risk...and now that I know the H1N1 vaccine is not so different from the seasonal flu vaccine, I feel much more secure in my decision.  Melissa, I do agree with you, we need to be careful about getting to into the media hype...it's amazing how much conflicting info is out there.  I personally am sticking to medical opinions by medical professionals whom I trust.  I feel pretty confident that it is the best choice for me and my baby.

151928 tn?1275707337
Hey there,
I'm right there with ya...I'll definitely be getting the shot!  I actually called the Health Department and they said the 1 in 3 thing is not correct.  They said that there have been 700 confirmed cases in pregnant women and of those 700, 100 were hospitalized and of those 100, 28 confirmed deaths.  So yes 28 is horrible but it is not 1 in 3.
151928 tn?1275707337
I didn't even see your post when I posted my last info.  Great post though!  I totally agree with everything you wrote! :-)
1029233 tn?1263966032
I am due December 2nd and I will get it as soon as it is available.  I am more nervous about catching the H1N1 virus than I am worried about the vaccine.  Pregnant women seem to be more at risk for secondary infections such as pneumonia and bacterial infections caused by the swine flu.  Also, Isn't the seasonal flu vaccine new every year?  and if H1N1 came around earlier wouldn't be in with the regular flu shot?  That's what my doctor explained to me.

I got test results back today from last week that I had Influenza type A and B.  Thank the Lord I didn't have swine flu, which they are saying is all that is going around right now.  I go into public maybe once a week and it's late at night with my husband to do grocery shopping.  I sanatize my hands like crazy, don't touch my face, and wipe my buggy and anything I touch with lysol wipes. You can not be too careful or overly cautious.  
17568 tn?1424973559
Thanks so much for the clarification on the full article!  All I got were news "headlines" from the NY Times and Washington Post.  Quite frankly, given the tremendous information you all have provided in this forum - these newspapers should be coming HERE for their leads!

Thanks again.

17568 tn?1424973559

Hi Dainsy,

I can't find the original messages I received, which were  headlines from a number of  media (US News & World Report; NY Times, Washington Post).  However, I just found the following over at Salon, which gives a much broader description.  I'm not sure how they arrived at the 1 in 4 have died statistic?   700 pregnant women, since April have been diagnosed with H1N1 and of those, 100 were hospitalized and of those, 28 died, does not equal 1 in 4 have died.   As Melissa so aptly points out above, they should have stated that 1 in 4 pregnant women hospitalized with H1N1 have died.

For the full story, please Google "Extraordinary death toll of H1N1 in pregnant women".

Excerpt from Salon.com:

"The H1N1 flu has taken an extraordinary toll among pregnant women. A new vaccine will be available within the next few weeks. Because of the nature of the emergency, there has not been time to do any long term studies of the vaccine. Yet pregnant women will need to make a decision as soon as possible on whether to be vaccinated.

Many illnesses are more severe during pregnancy, but the H1N1 influenza has had an unexpectedly devastating impact among pregnant women. According to the CDC, there have been approximately 700 reported cases of H1N1 in pregnant women since April. Of these, 100 women have required admission to an intensive care unit and 28 have died. In other words, 1 out of every 25 pregnant women who contracted H1N1 died of it. By any standard, that is an appalling death rate."


168348 tn?1379357075
Thank goodness we have this information right at our fingertips and don't need to rely on just what our Doctor says or doesn't say .. we can read it for ourselves and sometimes, even interpret it more clearly than just hearing it stated by a friend, co-worker, or professional.

661650 tn?1302282558

Good INFO for the BRAIN

Good Luck everyone it is a hard Choice, however  though the swine flu may be real, that does not mean these vaccines are safe, my suggestsion, a-ask your dr what is in them, im sure he does not know, b. see if the dr or schools, govt will write you a letter telling you that this vaccine is 100 safe, even 99%, they wont. They have made mistakes with the past swine vaccine and recently the gardisil, and it worries me that this was so rushed that it is possibly going to have very bad effects later on in life, not now. Please i encourage all to check out these two videos in order and then do your research later on google, to see that the people are real. GOOD LUCK ALL, and remember just because a Dr says to jump doesn't mean you say how high. All dr will tell you something diff, but ultimatly they do not know a lot about Neurology, and do work for a higher figure!
4473015 tn?1355115857
Yes, it's safe to get an influenza (flu) shot during pregnancy.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for anyone who's pregnant during flu season — typically early October through late March.
Flu during pregnancy also seems to increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight.
A flu shot can help prevent these potential problems. Better yet, a flu shot during pregnancy helps protect your baby after birth.
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