Doctors urge pregnant women to get flu shot

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - It might still be September, but it's already flu shot season. Doctors say pregnant women, especially, should receive the vaccine.

There are so many unknowns and questions that go along with being pregnant, but doctors say whether or not to get a flu shot - shouldn't be one of them. Doctors are now trying reach pregnant women because they're especially vulnerable to influenza.

Pregnancy suppresses your immune system so not only do they get sicker... but the infection can also harm the baby.

This is something first-time mom Terina Lasker Parks is now realizing. She says, "I had no idea how important it was to have the flu shot while pregnant."

By getting the vaccine, moms, like Terina are protecting their newborns, who can't receive the vaccine until they're six months old.

Dr. Gary Wheeler with the Arkansas Department of Health says, "When the mom gets immunized, the protective antibody that develops in her body against influenza... will in fact protect her infant during those first early months of life."

Dr. Wheeler says some moms are afraid of getting a flu shot because they think it will lead to influenza. He says that's not the case at all.

"That can't happen. because the flu shot is basically the organism that's been broken down.. only protein there... not a live vaccine," says Wheeler.

And what about side effects? Doctor Wheeler admits there are some...but they're nothing compared to what could happen if you actually caught the flu.

"Soreness in the arm... sometimes a little achiness or headaches. but those are very mild, typically last less than 24 hours," says Wheeler.

There are two types of flu vaccines... injectable and the nasal spray, but only the injectable is licensed for use in pregnant women.