New guidelines call for pregnant women to receive flu vaccination

In a committee opinion, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued new guidelines to pregnant women regarding their vaccinations for influenza.

The new guidelines, reported in the October issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, call for women to receive an influenza vaccination at any gestational period at any time during the flu season, according to

"Influenza vaccination is an essential element of prenatal care because pregnant women are at an increased risk of serious illness due to influenza," the authors of the opinion wrote in Obstetrics and Gynecology. "Most reports of excess seasonal influenza-related morbidity have focused on excess hospital admissions for respiratory illness during influenza season. Women [are] more likely to have increased medical visits or increased lengths of stay if hospitalized for respiratory illnesses during pregnancy than when not pregnant."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice recommends similar measures that are supported by ACOOG. According to the ACIP, women who will be pregnant during the flu season - October through May - should be vaccinated.

There has yet to be a study that has demonstrated any adverse effects on pregnant women or infants caused by the inactivated influenza vaccine, reports. The vaccine is generally made the same way each year, except for use against a new strain reflecting predictions of prevalent strains in the community.

"Despite the safety of the vaccine, many obstetrician–gynecologists have not participated in influenza vaccination programs," the opinion’s authors wrote, reports. "Provider education with simple chart prompts has been shown to increase the frequency of discussion between physicians and pregnant women regarding influenza and vaccination. This is particularly important because it has been shown that lack of knowledge about the benefits of the vaccine is a barrier to vaccine acceptance."