Not to be a downer, but here’s your friendly reminder that the Happy Holidays Season has an evil twin: flu season. Health experts are urging everyone to get this season’s flu vaccine and, in some parts of the world, they’re once again pushing H1N1 shots.
This year alone, 10 people in the U.K. died from the swine flu, all of them under 65 years old. In Northern Ireland, three pregnant women have been diagnosed with the so-called swine flu already, according to the BBC. Health officials there are urging all pregnant women, regardless of how far along their pregnancies are, to get an H1N1 shot if they didn’t get one last year.
Pregnant women are often hit particularly hard when infected with the H1N1 virus. According to Dr. Lorraine Doherty, director of Northern Ireland’s public health agency, expectant mothers are four times more likely to develop complications such as pneumonia, and heart and lung problems. They are 10 times more likely to be admitted to a hospital.
All vaccines for the flu are said to be safe for a fetus, no matter how many weeks along it is.
H1N1/swine flu hasn’t gotten a lot of press this year, but it’s still out there. During last year’s pandemic, more than 18,000 people died from complications stemming from the flu, including pregnant women and children. For those who stood in lines and got the shots last year, they’re good for this year. But it’s not too late to get the shot if you’re still not protected against the virus.