Pregnant Women Wary of Swine Flu Shot
Survey Shows Most Pregnant Women and Moms of Young Kids Won't Get Vaccinated
WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Oct. 27, 2009 -- A new survey shows only about one in four pregnant women
and mothers of young children plan to get the
H1N1 flu vaccine this year,
despite recommendations from public health groups urging them to do so.
The CDC, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and many other
public health organizations strongly recommend that pregnant women and new
mothers get both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine shots to protect themselves
as well as their newborns.
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The survey shows 43% of pregnant women and mothers of children younger than
2 years old plan to get a seasonal flu shot this year, up from 33% surveyed
last year. But only 27% plan on getting the H1N1 flu vaccine.
Researchers say confusion and concerns about the safety and effectiveness of
the H1N1 vaccine may be preventing many pregnant women from getting the
additional protection they need.
A CDC analysis shows pregnant women are up to four times more likely to be
hospitalized for complications from the H1N1 and other flu viruses compared to
the general population. This may be due to changes in the body related to
pregnancy, such as reduced lung capacity, which can make respiratory diseases
more dangerous, and changes to the immune system that can make a pregnant woman
more susceptible to infection.
"With H1N1 being the dominant influenza virus circulating so far this year,
it is vital that all pregnant women get their seasonal and H1N1 flu shots as
soon as possible," says Ashley Roman, MD, clinical assistant professor of
obstetrics and gynecology at New York University School of Medicine and
assistant clinical professor at Yale University, in a news release.
Confusion Over H1N1 Vaccine Risk
The Harris Interactive survey of 668 pregnant women and mothers of children
less than 2 years old across the U.S. shows that 86% of women believe the
seasonal flu shot is safe; only 68% think the H1N1 flu vaccine is safe. The
online U.S. survey was conducted between Sept. 17 and Sept. 29 among women aged
18-50 who were currently pregnant and/or had children under 2 years old.
The most common concern among the pregnant women surveyed was the belief
that the H1N1 flu vaccine has not been adequately tested. But researchers say
the H1N1 vaccine is made the same way as the seasonal flu shot and has been
found in clinical studies to be safe and effective at producing an immune
response in healthy adults.
"Both the seasonal and H1N1 flu shots are safe for women to get during any
stage of pregnancy and the shots are available in thimerosal-free forms, for
those who are concerned about mercury preservatives," says Roman.
Researchers also found that only half of the women knew that getting a flu
shot while pregnant will protect both themselves and their newborn babies after
The survey also showed that 41% of Hispanic women vs. 26% of all women
believed the false claim that getting a flu shot while pregnant can put an
unborn baby's health at risk. Less than half of Hispanic women were aware that
the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines are recommended for pregnant women compared
with 71% of women overall.
However, the survey showed Hispanic women were more likely than women
overall to discuss getting H1N1 and seasonal flu shots with their health care
The survey and an accompanying "Flu-Free and A Mom-to-Be: Protect Yourself,
Protect Your Baby - Get Your Flu Shots!" campaign organized by HealthyWomen and
the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses is supported
by CSL Biotherapies, which produces flu vaccines.
SOURCES: Healthy Women by Harris Interactive Survey, Sept. 17-29, 2009.
News release, Harris Interactive.
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