After becoming aware of the severe impact that influenza infections are having on pregnant women and their babies in Florida, Florida Medicaid will now pay for flu shots for Medicaid recipients who are pregnant and age 21 and older, through March 31.
Florida health officials say one pregnant woman has died and four others around the state have been hospitalized because of the flu.
The Florida Department of Health warned flu season is in full swing statewide and urged all residents to get vaccinated. In an effort to encourage others to follow his lead, Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong got his flu shot at a media event Friday.
“The flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent flu and it is very important for pregnant women to receive the influenza vaccination,” said Palm Beach County Health Director Dr. Alina Alonso. “We want to make sure that people are aware of this new opportunity for pregnant women to receive flu vaccination through Medicaid reimbursement.”
The flu vaccine was not covered for pregnant Medicaid recipient women 21 years and older.
The Florida Department of Health says pregnant women, and those looking to become pregnant should get vaccinated against the flu.
The Department recommends that all individuals six months of age and older receive the flu vaccination each year.
It is especially important for pregnant women to be vaccinated due to the increased risk of complications associated with contracting the flu while pregnant.
The flu vaccination is safe and will protect the mother, the unborn child, and will also help protect babies during the first months after birth.
Pregnant women should also get immunized by a flu shot injection. Standard dose nasal spray vaccines, while effective for people ages two through 49, are not recommended for use by pregnant women.
“It is highly advised that pregnant women receive the influenza vaccination either before or during pregnancy,” said Dr. Celeste Philip, Deputy Secretary for Health and Deputy State Health Officer for Children’s Medical Services (CMS). “Flu can be a serious health concern for both the expecting mother and their unborn child. Pregnant women should take all precautionary steps possible to protect themselves and their babies against influenza this season.”
Additional flu prevention steps include washing your hands often, keeping your hands away from your face and covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing and coughing.
Symptoms of the flu include headache, fever, severe cough, runny nose or body aches. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your primary care provider immediately for guidance on treatment.
*For other information on pregnant women and influenza, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/pregnant.htm