The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) encourages annual vaccination of all people 6 months of age and older against influenza. A seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances of getting flu and transmitting it to others.
Vaccination can reduce the risk of influenza-associated hospitalization for children and adults. It is also associated with a lowered risk of hospitalization for people with chronic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease.
Vaccination also helps protect women during and after pregnancy. Influenza poses a danger to women and their developing babies. Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women (and women up to two weeks after birth) more prone to severe illness from flu, including illness resulting in hospitalization.
Flu also may be harmful for a pregnant woman’s developing baby. A common flu symptom is fever, which may be associated with neural tube defects and other adverse outcomes for a developing baby. Vaccination during pregnancy is the most effective way to protect newborns because the flu vaccine is not approved for use in infants younger than 6 months.
“The recommendation for vaccination of pregnant women against influenza has not changed,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mary McIntyre said. “The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to recommend vaccination against the flu.”
In addition to influenza immunization, the public is reminded to follow basic infection control measures to help prevent the spread of the flu. These include covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or cloth when coughing and sneezing, washing hands frequently, and staying at home when sick.
Contact your private physician or your local county health department for a flu clinic schedule. For more information, contact the ADPH Immunization Division at (334) 206-5023 or toll free at 800-469-4599.