Which Pregnant Moms Are Getting the Flu Shot?

Flu vaccination rates among pregnant women examined by CDC

(RxWiki News) As flu season approaches, the time to protect yourself with the flu vaccine is here. For women who are pregnant, it is especially important to get protection from influenza.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all pregnant women get the flu vaccine regardless of which trimester they are in.

A recent report from the CDC estimated how many women had been vaccinated against the flu during the 2012-2013 flu season.

Half the women reported having been vaccinated before or during their pregnancy.

"Talk to your doctor about the flu vaccine."

This report was authored by a team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) led by Sarah Ball, ScD.

The researchers analyzed data from a survey involving 1,702 women who were pregnant between October 2012 and January 2013.

Of these, 50 percent reported they had received the flu vaccine while pregnant or before becoming pregnant.

Those most likely to have received the flu vaccine were women whose healthcare providers recommended the vaccine and offered a dose of it.

Overall, about half the women interviewed had a provider who both recommended and offered the vaccine. Seventy percent of these women received the immunization.

Meanwhile, only 46 percent of the women whose healthcare providers recommended — but did not offer — the vaccine were vaccinated.

Among those whose healthcare providers did not make an actual recommendation for the vaccine, only 16 percent were immunized against the flu.

About 29 percent of the women overall — almost a third — never received a recommendation to get the vaccine from their healthcare provider.

"Vaccination coverage of women who will be or are pregnant during an influenza season might be improved by implementing a combination of community-based interventions, including enhanced access to low-cost vaccination services, provider recommendation and offer of influenza vaccination, and education of pregnant women about influenza vaccination safety and efficacy during pregnancy to increase demand," the researchers wrote.

Women who were less likely than others to get the vaccine included younger women (aged 18 to 24), black women, unmarried women and women without health insurance.

Women who had less education than a college degree, who were not working for wages, who were living below the poverty line and who had no high-risk conditions for influenza complications were also less likely to be vaccinated than other women.

The women's attitudes toward the vaccine played a significant role in whether or not they received one.

Among women who had a negative attitude toward the vaccine, only 10 percent were immunized against the flu. Meanwhile, 64 percent of the women with a positive attitude toward the flu vaccine received it.

Similarly, only 13 percent of women who had a negative attitude toward the safety of vaccination received the flu shot, compared to 66 percent of women who had a positive attitude toward vaccination safety.

Yet provider recommendations made a difference for those with negative attitudes.

Among those whose providers recommended and offered the vaccine, 19 percent of the women got the shot even if they had a negative attitude toward the vaccine's safety and/or effectiveness.

Unsurprisingly, only 2.5 percent of the women with a negative attitude toward the vaccine's effectiveness got the vaccine if their provider did not recommend or support it.

Concerns about the flu itself had a little, but not much, impact on women's vaccination status.

Among those with no concern about catching the flu, 47 percent received the vaccine, compared to 53 percent of those who were concerned about getting the flu.

The biggest reason women chose to get the vaccine was to protect their child. A third of the women (33 percent) said that was a reason they got the shot.

In addition, 20 percent of the women said they got the vaccine to protect themselves from the flu, and 16 percent said they got the vaccine because their healthcare provider recommended it.

Those who did not get the vaccine said they were concerned about the vaccine's safety for the baby, getting the flu from the vaccine or that the vaccine would not be effective in preventing the flu.

This report was published September 26 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report was funded by the CDC.

Review Date: 
September 26, 2013