Although flu vaccination rates among pregnant women nearly doubled during the last flu season and H1N1 swine flu epidemic, about half of pregnant women still did not obtain the immunizations, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Reuters reports (Fox, Reuters, 12/2). For the study, which was published on Friday in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers analyzed data from 10 states gathered through the Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System (UPI, 12/2).
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices both recommend that pregnant women get flu vaccinations to protect their infants and themselves. The groups note that pregnant women have an increased risk for becoming severely ill, dying or miscarrying if they contract the flu. Despite this, many women in the study cited fear for their health or the health of the fetus as their reasons for not obtaining the vaccine.
The study found that among 16,000 pregnant women, slightly more than 50% received the seasonal flu shot and 46% got the H1N1 swine flu vaccine during the 2009-2010 flu season. By comparison, 24% of pregnant women received the seasonal immunization during the 2007-2008 flu season and only 11% got the vaccine in the 2008-2009 season.
Doctors' Advice Might Help Rates
The study also found that more than 60% of the pregnant women who said their doctors recommended the H1N1 vaccine were vaccinated, while about 6% who said their doctors did not mention the shot were vaccinated. In total, more than 67% said their doctors offered the seasonal vaccine and 75% said they were offered the H1N1 vaccine. "The role of health care providers in reassuring pregnant women might have been critical because of patient concerns regarding the new vaccine," the researchers noted (Reuters, 12/2).