Two pregnant Wisconsin women killed by the flu

CREATED Jan. 17, 2014 - UPDATED: Jan. 17, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - Two pregnant women have died from the flu in Wisconsin. We’ve learned the two women were from the southern part of the state.  The Department of Health Services isn’t able to say which city or county they were from.  But they can say that southeast Wisconsin has more flu cases because of the higher population.

Dr. Rachel Laven isn't just an OB/GYN at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. She's also a pregnant mom.

"I’m about 8 months pregnant, and as soon as I could get the flu shot, I did!" says Dr. Laven.

She says pregnant women are at an increased risk of getting the flu.

“Their immune systems are already compromised, and if they get hit with the flu, they can't even fight it normally like they would. Their side effects are even worse than if they weren't pregnant," adds Dr. Laven.

If you're pregnant, you should definitely get vaccinated. The vaccine is still available, as long as your physician is offering it. And it doesn't matter how far along you are.

Dr. Laven says it's safe to get a flu shot any trimester during the pregnancy. It’ll still be effective, and the baby will be protected.

"Even patients who've declined it, I’ll try to bring it up again at another future visit,” explains Dr. Laven. “But really, we should be talking about it as soon as flu season starts, to make sure patients are getting vaccinated."

Emily Musselman-Haas is 23 weeks pregnant. She also got her flu shot. But she’s not just a patient.

"I’m actually a primary care physician myself, so I know the importance of getting a flu shot,” shares Musselman-Haas. “I do it not only to protect me, but also to protect the baby."

The Wisconsin Health Department states only 31% of Wisconsin residents have gotten a flu vaccine this year. Statewide, there are nearly two thousand confirmed cases of the flu. You should call your doctor right away if you have the flu or have been exposed to it.

“This year's flu strain is affecting younger generations and younger populations more than it has in the past," adds Musselman-Haas.

The Health Department reports that 851 people have been hospitalized for the flu. Other than getting a flu shot, common hygiene tips like washing your hands and covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough will also help prevent the flu from spreading.