Most pregnant women not getting vaccinated — CDC

Grant Boone
October 11, 2019

The flu can cause severe complications for children, pregnant women, adults 65 or older and people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or and heart or lung disease. "In trying to balance the need to get many people vaccinated before flu activity begins with concerns about potential waning of vaccine-induced immunity during the flu season, the CDC and ACIP recommend that vaccination be offered by the end of October". "Last year, we had more than 122,000 cases statewide and 258 deaths".

In an accompanying Vital Signs edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Megan C. Lindley, MPH, of the CDC, and colleagues examined data from an Internet panel survey from March to April 2019 among women ages 18-49 who had been pregnant at any point since August 2018, as well as data from pregnant women reported to FluSurv-NET from 2010-2011 to 2017-2018. The flu vaccine, meanwhile, can be administered during any part of the pregnancy, according to the CDC. The babies can only be given the flu and the whooping cough shots after they are at least six months of age.

According to experts, the mom's vaccines can protect their babies during a time when the infants are still too young to get vaccinations.

The two vaccines are imperative to the health of the mother and her child, as women who are vaccinated develop antibodies against both diseases. "It's basically the high risk population that is eligible to get the vaccine initially".

The risk of these infections are greatest among babies less than 6 months of age and these babies are also at a great risk of hospitalization due to influenza because of their immature immune system. They should "offer flu and Tdap vaccines to pregnant women, or provide referrals to other vaccination providers", and "reinforce that vaccination is the best way to protect young babies from influenza and whooping cough".

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Jamieson said women were generally more likely to accept the Tdap vaccine, possibly because it is newer so there are fewer misconceptions about it.

But women who get the shot are at a 40 percent lower risk of being hospitalized for the virus.

"We encourage them to start discussing the importance of maternal vaccination early in pregnancy, and continue vaccination discussions with their patients throughout pregnancy".

The main goal of the health fair, Fisher said, is to inform students of all the health-related resources available to them both on and off campus. "Parents may see their babies gasping for air and even turning blue from lack of oxygen", Schuchat explained.

Ready or not, flu season is here.

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