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More Pregnant Women Getting Flu Shots

Studies Show Flu Vaccine Is Safe and Effective for Pregnant Women

Improvement in Vaccination Rates continued...

Still, nearly half of pregnant women in the study didn't get vaccinated last year. "We need to do better," Drees says.

One way to do that, she says, is to ensure all ob-gyns offer their patients flu shots.

Other findings from the study:

  • Of the pregnant women who refused the vaccine, 26% cited safety concerns as their reason during the 2010-2011 season, compared with 66% the previous year.
  • The most commonly cited reasons for refusal last year: Not usually getting a flu shot (62%), not thinking they were at risk of getting the flu (50%), and not realizing they could get severely ill from influenza (35%).

Flu Vaccine Protects Newborns

A second study, conducted at the University of Utah, confirmed that pregnant women who get the seasonal flu vaccine pass their immunity to their babies and that the protection lasts for two months after birth.

The researchers studied 27 women, 11 (41%) of whom received the seasonal influenza vaccine. All babies born to immunized women had flu antibodies in their blood at birth, compared to 31% of babies born to women who had not received the vaccine.

At two months, 60% of babies born to immunized women had antibody protection vs. none of the babies born to women who weren't vaccinated.

By four months, however, there was no difference in antibody rates between the two groups.

But wouldn't it have been better to compare the rates of flu and flu complications among the two groups than antibody rates?

Yes, says study researcher Julie H. Shakib, DO, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. "But we need a much larger study to do that."

On the other hand, antibody rates are a reasonable substitute for flu rates, Shakib and Neuzil agree. Other research has shown an association between the two, they explain.

Flu Vaccine Not Linked to Miscarriage

The third study, the largest to date on the topic, showed there is no association between getting the flu vaccine during the first trimester of pregnancy and miscarriage.

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