Date: 2 November 2011
Public Health Agency,
Gransha Park House,
15 Gransha Park,
Londonderry. BT47 6FN
Web Site : www.publichealth.hscni.net
Evidence from the last couple of years has shown us that pregnant women themselves are particularly at risk of the complications of flu and are 7–10 times more likely to end up seriously ill in hospital than other women of the same age. If a woman does catch flu she is also significantly more likely to have a pre-term birth, a stillbirth or a neonatal death. An additional benefit of the vaccine is that it will offer some protection to the baby for the first few months of life if given to the mother during pregnancy. There is good evidence that vaccinating pregnant women protects against these increased risks.
We also have a wealth of evidence that vaccination is safe in pregnancy. A literature review published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2009 reported that no study had shown an increase of maternal or foetal complications as a result of flu vaccination in pregnancy. Flu vaccine has been offered to all pregnant women in the USA since the mid-1990’s. From 1996 – 2009 11.8 million doses of flu vaccine were given to pregnant women. Adverse event monitoring in pregnant women during this time again showed no evidence of harm either to the mother or to the foetus. We can, therefore, be very confident in recommending the flu vaccine to pregnant women and in stressing the importance of getting vaccinated to protect them against potential serious harm to both them and their baby.
Dr. Richard Smithson
CONSULTANT IN COMMUNICABLE DISEASE CONTROL