San Diego County's health administration is urging residents to get the flu shot after two unvaccinated pregnant women were hospitalized with influenza.
The two women, ages 40 and 30 and both in their third trimesters, spent at least a week in the intensive care unit due to complications from the flu, The county Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) said Wednesday.
One woman was hospitalized for 16 days with a strain of influenza A.
Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu and more likely to experience severe complications if the virus is contracted.
"Changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women and women up to two weeks after delivery more susceptible to severe illness from the flu," Wooten said.
She noted the flu can also be harmful to an unborn child, who becomes more sensitive to fever and other adverse outcomes.
HHSA said pregnant women can get the flu shot during any trimester of their pregnancy but should not take the nasal spray version.
Other groups more susceptible to the flu are people with chronic medical conditions, senior citizens, and caregivers of those who are at risk.
The vaccine is available at the county public health center to those that do not have medical insurance. A list of locations can be found here or by calling 211.
Influenza cases are down this year when compared to the same time last season, 940 this year and 1,641 last year, but this week saw an almost double in confirmed flu cases when compared to last week, HHSA data shows.