Health care personnel influenza vaccination rates increase, 50 percent of pregnant women receive vaccination

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday the results of two separate studies run by Abt Associates that show approximately half of pregnant women are receiving flu shots and more health care professionals are receiving recommended flu shot vaccinations.

The survey studied 1,702 pregnant women and found that approximately 50 percent received the flu vaccination. This number, however, was higher, at 70 percent, when the flu vaccination was recommended to them by health care providers.

"We know that flu vaccination not only decreases the risk of flu-related illness and complications for pregnant women, but can decrease the risk of severe flu-related illness in infants in the first 6 months, before they are old enough to get vaccinated," Deborah Klein Walker, a vice president, senior fellow and practice leader for Public Health and Epidemiology at Abt Associates, said. "Strategies that make it easier for pregnant women to get the vaccine by reducing the costs and helping health care providers recommend the vaccination at each visit are needed."

The study also showed an increase of flu shots among health care professionals, with 72 percent receiving the vaccination in the 2012-2013 season. This is an increase from 63 percent in the 2010-2011 season. The numbers among physicians remained high at 92 percent.

"Health care personnel are an important group to track because they are at a particularly high risk for illness during the flu season due to their frequent exposure," Sarah Ball, a project director at Abt, said. "Health care organizations, especially those with patients in long-term care facilities, could use the start of the new flu season to consider implementing policies to encourage and make it easier for employees to receive an immunization."