NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The flu season continues to escalate, with every state but Hawaii reporting widespread outbreaks.

New York City is reporting the highest flu activity since the pandemic nearly 10-years-ago. Hidden in the numbers is the tragedy of a number of children dying from the virus.

Some pregnant women are reluctant to get the vaccine because of fear that it could harm their unborn child, even though it’s contrary to what health officials recommend.

Diana Barron Gonzalez says her best friend Maria Paniagua was seven months pregnant when she caught the flu. The illness forced doctors to hold off performing a cesarean section as the heartbeat of the unborn child faded.

The California mother of four survived, but her baby did not.

“If they would have operated on her with cesarean, they could have lost the mother or baby or both,” Gonzalez said.

At least 37 children have been killed by the flu nationwide this season.

“We’ve seen kids are really making up the predominant amount of influenza-like illness,” Influenza Director for the Centers for Disease Control Dr. Daniel Jernigan said. “They’re taking that back to school, it’s getting transmitted there, and I think that’s really what’s driving a lot of outpatients to the clinic right now.”

The use of the flu vaccine during pregnancy has been extensively evaluated and has been found to be safe, but getting the flu itself during pregnancy has been found to increase the risk of birth defects as well as premature labor and delivery.

A pregnant woman is more likely to suffer serious complications from the flu such as pneumonia, and since school age kids can bring the flu back to mom carrying a baby brother or sister to be, schools across the country are working to contain the virus.

At least six school districts in Oklahoma closed because too many staff and students called out sick. In Gulf County, Florida, more than 20 percent of students were absent because of flu-like symptoms.

The CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say everyone should get a flu shot. It’s safe, and expecting mothers are no exception, especially because then you’re protecting two lives with one shot.


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