The majority of pregnant women have not received influenza and whooping cough (pertussis) vaccines, according to a recent CDC report.
Sixty-five percent of women who are currently pregnant have not received the vaccines that could protect their infants and themselves, CDC says in the “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” Vital Signs article.
Getting a flu shot reduces a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalized due to influenza by an average of 40%, the CDC says in a statement.
Flu vaccines are especially important for this population: babies under six months old have the highest incidence of influenza-associated hospitalizations and the highest risk of influenza-related death among children. “Flu vaccination in pregnant women reduces the risk of hospitalization due to influenza in their infants younger than six months old by an average of 72%,” CDC says.
Whooping cough can be deadly for babies, especially before they are able to receive the childhood whooping cough vaccine at two months old. Two thirds (67%) of babies younger than two months old who get whooping cough need care in the hospital. Sixty-nine percent of whooping cough deaths occur in this age group.
“I want to reinforce that all expectant mothers should be up-to-date with recommended vaccinations as part of their routine prenatal care,” says Robert Redfield, MD, director of CDC. “CDC strongly recommends that health care providers speak with moms-to-be about the benefits of safe Tdap and flu vaccination for their health and the well-being of their babies.”
CDC recommends that all pregnant women get a flu vaccine during any trimester of each pregnancy and the whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) during the early part of the third trimester of each pregnancy as part of routine prenatal care.
Pregnant women have more than double the risk of hospitalization compared to nonpregnant women of childbearing age if they get influenza. Since 2010, among women ages 15 to 44 years who were hospitalized for influenza, 24% to 34% of them were pregnant, CDC says.
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However, in CDC’s survey of 2,100 women who were pregnant, 54% reported getting a flu vaccine before or during pregnancy and 55% of women said they received a Tdap vaccine during pregnancy.
“Women whose health care providers offered or referred them for vaccination had the highest vaccination rates,” CDC says.
Black, non-Hispanic women had lower vaccination rates than women of other races and were less likely to report a healthcare provider offer or referral for vaccination.