Health Professionals Succeeded in Encouraging Flu Vaccine Among Pregnant Women

In a new survey, nearly half of pregnant women were vaccinated against seasonal flu and 40% against 2009 influenza A (H1N1) during the 2009-2010 flu season. (Image: dra_schwarz/

Physicians and other health professionals who encouraged pregnant women to get flu vaccine during the 2009-2010 flu season were largely successful, despite wide geographic variations in vaccination rates throughout the United States.

In the February 24 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports vaccination data from 29 states and New York City. The data are from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, a population-based survey in 40 states and New York City that collects information on various maternal behaviors and experiences before, during, and after pregnancy.

The report shows that among women who gave birth to a live infant from September 2009 to May 2010, median vaccination coverage was 47.1% for seasonal flu. Median coverage prevalence ranged from a low of 26.1% in Florida to a high of 67.9% in Minnesota.

Median coverage was 40.4% for 2009 influenza A (H1N1). Median prevalence was lowest in Mississippi, 21.9%, and highest in Vermont, 63.3%. Also, median coverage for both vaccines was 28.5% and 59.3% for either.

Researchers said that 74% of seasonal flu coverage and 89% of H1N1 flu vaccinations among pregnant women could be attributed to a health professional’s recommendation. In fact, in states where a health professional recommended seasonal vaccine, coverage was 62.1%, but it was only 14.3% if no recommendation was made. For H1N1, coverage was 53.1% in states where health professionals suggested vaccination and 4.9% where they did not.

The median prevalence of health professionals who suggested that pregnant women be vaccinated also varied widely among the states. For seasonal vaccine, the low was 54% in Mississippi and the high was 86.2% in Minnesota. For H1N1 vaccine, the low again was in Mississippi at 53.6% and the high of 88.7% was in Vermont.

Researchers said flu vaccination among pregnant women in 2009-2010 was substantially higher than historical low rates of about 15%. Even so, stepped-up efforts of health professionals, local and state health departments, the federal government, and the private sector to vaccinate pregnant women still fell short of the Healthy People 2020 goal of an 80% vaccination rate among pregnant women, the article noted.

Categories: H1N1 Influenza, Immunization, Pregnancy and Breast Feeding, Public Health