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Flu shot during pregnancy. How necessary and safe is it?
Is pregnancy a reason to get vaccinated against seasonal flu as soon as possible, or, conversely, a reason to avoid all vaccines out of harm's way? WHO recommendations give an unequivocal answer: pregnant women need this vaccination first. Let's see how dangerous the flu is for pregnant women, what vaccination can give them and whether it carries any danger.
Is pregnancy a reason to get vaccinated against seasonal flu as soon as possible, or, conversely, a reason to avoid all vaccines out of harm's way? WHO recommendations give an unequivocal answer: pregnant women need this vaccination first.
Let's see how dangerous the flu is for pregnant women, what vaccination can give them and whether it carries any danger.
Fear due to ignorance
Vaccination rates among pregnant women are poor. According to a number of studies, reluctance to get vaccinated is due to a lack of knowledge about vaccines or the flu itself. As shown by surveys of pregnant women, a significant part of them believe that the flu vaccine increases the risk of miscarriage, birth defects in a child, and can be harmful during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
What is the danger of influenza during pregnancy?
Changes in the body, including the immune system, during pregnancy and within two weeks after childbirth increase the risk of severe complications from the flu. In addition, the flu is dangerous for the developing fetus.
Observations over 19 flu seasons have shown that pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized for acute cardiopulmonary failure. Pregnant women develop complications of influenza 4-18 times more often than their non-pregnant peers with the same health condition.
The risk increases with the duration of pregnancy and in the presence of any concomitant diseases. The largest number of hospitalizations, resuscitation and death among pregnant women occurs in the third trimester. There is a lot of documentary evidence of a link between influenza during pregnancy and an increased incidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes (miscarriages, adverse effects on the fetus).
What does the flu vaccine do for pregnancy?
Flu vaccination has proven benefits for both mother and baby. So, within the framework of the Mother's Gift Project (2004-2005), children of mothers who were vaccinated during pregnancy, at the age of six months, had flu less often by 63%, and colds in general - less often by 29%.
A 2018 study found that influenza vaccination reduced the risk of hospitalization for pregnant women by 40%. The frequency of respiratory infections associated with influenza, according to a 2014 study, in vaccinated people is cut in half.
Flu vaccine during pregnancy is safe
Influenza vaccines have been used for decades during pregnancy. Historical data dating back to the 1960s showed that after vaccination, the number of adverse events did not increase either from women or from newborns. The safety of influenza vaccination has been verified by a large number of studies, we will mention only a few of them as an illustration.
Reports from 1990-2009 (over 11 million women vaccinated) and 2000-2003 (about 2 million women vaccinated) concluded that vaccination during pregnancy does not increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes compared to the average. A large 2004 study found that vaccinations, among other things, were not associated with an increased need for a caesarean section. And already in 2019, as we wrote earlier, research hypotheses about an increased risk of miscarriage in vaccinated women were refuted.