Chris Creekmore has made it his new mission to educate pregnant women on the importance of getting a flu shot regardless of the age of the fetus. He lost his wife to the H1N1 flu virus this week, less than a month after she miscarried the couple’s baby daughter.
Leslie Creekmore was 20 weeks pregnant when she was admitted to the hospital on January 11 for shortness of breath. Her health declined rapidly, and two days later, she was on a ventilator in the ICU -- the same day she was supposed to receive her flu shot.
The couple had researched and decided to delay the vaccine until after the first trimester, a practice their doctor recommended. It’s also the opposite of what the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says, which is to vaccinate early and regardless of gestational age.
On January 16, Leslie spontaneously miscarried their daughter, whom they planned to name Jera. At only 20 weeks, she was too premature to save.
Now Leslie is gone too. Chris posted to the “Love for Leslie” Facebook group, “She's gone now, and the universe itself is lesser for the loss … I loved her with every iota of my being and beyond, and I have no intention of that changing just because she isn't here with me corporeally."
He also posted, “I sincerely and wholeheartedly want to thank every one of you for caring and especially for supporting my mission to get people to vaccinate so fewer lives might be cut short.”
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There’s no guarantee that Leslie and Jera would’ve survived if she’d been vaccinated, but usually symptoms are milder for pregnant women that have gotten the shot.
Pregnancy puts a lot of stress on our bodies, and a lot of pressure on our hearts and lungs, which is why it’s particularly important for pregnant women to get themselves vaccinated. They are five times more likely than their non-gestating sisters to end up in the ICU or with severe complications related to the flu.
The flu vaccine is completely safe for pregnant women in its injectable form. Unlike the spray, it does not contain the live virus, but it does offer protection against several strains of the season’s flu viruses.
Getting a flu shot is such a simple thing. You can get one almost anywhere these days (they do them at my grocery store. Seriously.), and you never know. It could save your life.
Did you get a flu shot when you were pregnant?
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