Should You Get the H1N1 Vaccine?

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There's no doubt that this H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, has been a real doozy. With more than 1 million people infected in the U.S. alone and approximately 263 deaths, attention must be paid to a potentially worsening condition.

I typically don't like to scare people into paying attention to health care issues, but I dothink that as soon as a vaccine becomes available here in the U.S. for the H1N1 virus, you should get it.

I recently learned of two alarming cases where pregnant women became affected with the H1N1 virus. Any type of flu can be quite devastating for a pregnant patient. The reason for the significant effect in pregnancy is that pregnant women typically have suppressed immune systems and their pulmonary compliance is significantly altered due to the pressure from the pregnant uterus. So when they get the flu, it could very quickly turn into a deadly pneumonia with very high degrees of complication for both the mother and the unborn child.

That was just the case with these two recent reports - one from Australia where a mother fell ill from the swine flu and ultimately the baby died in utero, and in the other case, a woman in Florida had to deliver at 27 weeks of gestation due to the flu, and the infant ultimately died from complications associated with his prematurity.

So the message is loud and clear: This new virus is very contagious. We don't have natural immunity, and if you have any risk factors - especially if you're pregnant - get the vaccine as soon as it is available.

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