Pregnant women should get vaccination for the flu, the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India’s (FOGSI), the country’s largest body of gynaecologists, has recommended.
It is the first time the body has come out with an immunisation recommendation for pregnant women, advocating the administration of the flu vaccine in the wake of recent H1N1 outbreak in various parts of the country.
On Wednesday, a five-month pregnant woman died of swine flu at the civic-run KEM Hospital. The 22-year-old also had aplastic anaemia, a condition that occurs when the body stops producing the required number of new blood cells.
At present, most pregnant women are vaccinated only against tetanus.
The gynaecologists have said that, apart from tetanus, pregnant women should get the T-DAP (Tetanus – Diphtheria and Pertussis) and influenza vaccines.
“We have recommended replacing the booster dose of Tetanus Toxoid with T-DAP vaccine which provides immunity against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. By doing this the mother will develop antibodies [against these diseases] which can be passed to the unborn child,” said Dr Parikshit Tank, chairman, Safe Motherhood Committee, FOGSI. About 2,500 cases of diphtheria are reported from different parts of the country.
FOGSI members said that as pregnant women have higher risk of developing acute respiratory distress syndrome owing to flu, a vaccine can prove to be life saving. “It will also confer protection to the newborn, who are not to be vaccinated for the first six months,” said Dr Tank.
At present, only the Tetanus Toxoid vaccine is recommended by the government for pregnant women. Senior state health officials said that a vaccine recommendation for vaccine against swine flu or H1N1 should come from the Union health ministry.
“Only inactivated vaccines should be administered to pregnant women,” said Dr Ashok Anand, professor of gynaecology, Sir JJ Hospital, Byculla.