Pregnant women, young children can now receive H1N1 vaccine

Friday, October 23, 2009 | 6:01 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Women who are pregnant and children under three can now get the standard H1N1 vaccine with a mercury-based preservative.

These groups have been limited to a preservative-free vaccine by a state statute, which was granted an exemption today by Margaret Donnelly, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

“The H1N1 vaccine is now widespread throughout Missouri,” Donnelly said in a press release. “We know that pregnant women and young children are the most susceptible to this illness. But delays in vaccine production have created a situation where the most vulnerable people were left without vaccine protection.”

The exemption is in place until there is enough preservative-free vaccine available to fill demand, and it allows the state health director to place exemptions in future pandemics or shortages.

Women who are pregnant can have a stronger reaction to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The site also says some pregnant women sick with 2009 H1N1 have experienced early labor, had severe pneumonia, or died.

The CDC is urging women who are pregnant to be careful, saying : “If you are pregnant and have symptoms of the flu, take it very seriously. Call your doctor right away for advice.”

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