Pregnant women need to have access to safe and timely vaccinations, however, this is not always the case. Concerns about the impact on the unborn infant and lack of evidence can often mean pregnant women miss out on vital vaccines.
In 2016, the results of a large Australian study determined the influenza vaccine is safe to receive at any stage during pregnancy,
The study, published in the journal Vaccine, found that birth outcomes, specifically birth weight and weeks’ gestation of the infant at birth, are not affected by the influenza vaccine during any trimester of pregnancy.
“Vaccine safety and effectiveness are key concerns and influencers of uptake for both vaccine providers and families,” noted the researchers.
Over 7,000 women gave birth during the study, one-third of whom had received the influenza vaccine during pregnancy. The researchers found no statistically significant differences between infants born to vaccinated vs unvaccinated women.
Another recent study analysed Canadian healthcare data for more than 100,000 women pregnant during the 2009-2010 flu pandemic and records of their children’s health up to 5 years of age. The researchers reported no elevated risk for cancer, infections, neurodevelopmental problems, or chronic diseases in the children of vaccinated mothers.
Most countries recommend that pregnant women receive the flu vaccine during pregnancy, yet, in the 2017-2018 flu season, less than half of pregnant women in England were vaccinated. Comparable rates were found in the U.S. and across Europe.
“Vaccination of pregnant women saves lives,” said the authors of the Canadian study, who also urge healthcare professionals to ensure uptake of the flu vaccine.
Were you offered or encouraged to receive the flu vaccine during your pregnancy?