Experts continue to recommend that all pregnant women receive a flu shot

The president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has released a statement recommending that all pregnant women receive a flu shot during any trimester of their pregnancy.

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Haywood Brown’s statement follows concerns that have been raised about the safety of the vaccination, after one study recently reported an increased risk of miscarriage when the shot is received very early on in the first trimester. However, Brown says there is insufficient evidence to support change in the current recommendation that women receive a flu shot at any point during pregnancy.

The influenza vaccination is an important part of prenatal care, since pregnancy can cause changes in the immune system, lungs and heart that make a woman more susceptible to severe illness from flu. Studies have also shown that maternal vaccination can protect new-borns against flu for the first several months of life.

The safety of maternal flu vaccination is of major concern to obstetrics and gynecology experts. The ACOG carefully monitors its safety through the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also monitors its safety during each influenza season using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), an early warning system that aids the monitoring of health concerns following vaccination.

Both the ACOG and the CDC have recommended for many years that all pregnant women receive a flu shot during any trimester of pregnancy. There is a large body of published scientific literature, as well as clinical experience to support that flu vaccines are safe to receive during pregnancy and do not increase the risk of miscarriage.

However, a recent study has reported an increased miscarriage risk among women who receive the shot very early on in the first trimester. Vaccination at this stage was associated with an increased risk of miscarriage within the first 28 days following vaccination.

Researchers do not currently understand why this association would exist and the CDC says flu shots have safely been given to millions of pregnant women for many years.

There is ongoing investigation into this issue to address the concern the study has raised. The CDC is gathering information on the topic and will be analysing any further findings as soon as they become available.

In the time being, the ACOG and the CDC continue to recommend that women receive the flu shot at any point during their pregnancy to prevent serious illness from flu and to protect babies after birth.

“In evaluating all of the available scientific information, there is insufficient information to support changing the current recommendation which is to offer and encourage routine flu vaccinations during pregnancy regardless of the trimester of pregnancy,” concludes Brown.

The CDC recommends than any pregnant women concerned about flu vaccination should consult their doctor. More information on the topic is available at the ACOG’s Immunization for Women website.

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