Vaccine scarcity worries pregnant women

    Compared with other patients, pregnant women are more likely to suffer serious complications if they get the swine flu. Doctors are counseling pregnant women to protect themselves by getting the H1N1 flu shot, but vaccine supplies have not kept pace with the demand. Some pregnant women say they are frustrated they can not follow doctors orders.

    Compared with other patients, pregnant women are more likely to suffer serious complications if they get the swine flu. Doctors are counseling pregnant women to protect themselves by getting the H1N1 flu shot, but vaccine supplies have not kept pace with the demand. Some pregnant women say they are frustrated they can not follow doctors orders.

    Listen:

    [audio:091102teflu.mp3]

    Obstetrician Joshua Johannson directs the Department of Labor and Delivery at Pennsylvania Hospital. His practice got enough vaccine for about 200 women, but more than 600 of his patients are pregnant.

    Johannson: So we are hoping that people who have access because of jobs in health care or education, those places, that they can get vaccinated at work sites. Because a lot of the schools and hospitals in the city have vaccine as well. People who don’t — really have to hustle.

    The practice is expecting new supplies soon, but Johannson says it won’t be enough to meet the need.

    Montgomery County held a special flu-shot clinic for pregnant women, but most health departments are relying on doctors offices to distribute the vaccine. Health officials say shipments are sporadic but flowing into the state. They say be persistent and keep checking with your doctor.

    Johannson says there is also confusion about which vaccine is safe for pregnant woman.

    Johannson:
    Some of the people who are vaccinating, especially outside of hospitals, and places like that, aren’t as well educated on who can and can’t get the vaccine. I have women who were rejected at their Rite Aid or their Walgreens.

    The H1N1 vaccine was developed both as a nasal mist and a shot, experts say the shot is the safe choice for pregnant women.

    Bryn Mawr graduate student Jacoba Johnson Zaring is 29-weeks pregnant. She decided to get the flu shot after taking a birth preparation class.

    Zaring: We were told that it was very serious and we had to be very concerned about it, and then I read a story in the New York Times about a woman who got very sick and lost her unborn baby. What seemed odd to me is that we were getting very much educated about why we needed to get the swine flu shot — and that we should — but I couldn’t find any when I looked.

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