A report presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday found that pregnant women whose health care providers offered them a flu shot had the highest vaccination rates.
Babies whose mothers received a flu shot while pregnant were also protected against serious illness from influenza for the first six months of life and had a lower risk of developing birth defects.
The March of Dimes highlighted the CDC study with data showing that approximately half of all pregnant women in the U.S. are not vaccinated against influenza, which could leave them and their babies at risk.
"Getting a flu shot should be a routine part of prenatal care," Edward McCabe, the chief medical officer for March of Dimes, said. "Health care providers should offer their pregnant patients a flu shot each year and if they don't, then women should ask for it."
The March of Dimes recommended other precautions pregnant women can take against influenza, including limiting contact with others who are sick and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or an arm. The organization also recommended that those who live with or are in close contact with pregnant women should be immunized.
The CDC recommends that all individuals six month of age or older, including pregnant women, receive a vaccination against influenza every year.