Flu jab is safe any time in pregnancy, study finds
WOMEN can safely get the seasonal flu jab at any time during their pregnancy, according to a new study by Irish researchers.
The study looked at uptake of the flu jab during the swine flu pandemic and found younger age groups were less likely to avail of it. It was also lower among pregnant women who were not in the higher socio economic groups, and those from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia/Middle East.
Vaccination was also less likely among women who booked late for antenatal care and those who received publicly-funded obstetric care, according to the research led by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland's School of Pharmacy and the Rotunda Hospital.
The study, published in the 'European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Reproductive Biology', found there was an association between vaccination during pregnancy and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Women who were vaccinated were less likely to have a pre-term delivery than unvaccinated women.
Prof Brian Cleary, chief pharmacist at the Rotunda, pointed out: "Our study provides further reassurance to pregnant women on the safety of flu vaccination in pregnancy. Our findings support current recommendations from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre for all pregnant women to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza at any stage during pregnancy.
"Future public health campaigns should provide clear information on vaccination safety in pregnancy, ensure consistent vaccination recommendations from healthcare professionals and provide easy access to vaccination in order to encourage uptake."
The researchers examined records of women who were pregnant during the swine flu pandemic between December 2009 and September 2010. They checked the pregnancy outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated women taking into account pre-term birth, size for gestational age, neonatal intensive care admission, congenital anomalies and perinatal death.
The researchers said: "Of 6,894 women pregnant during the pandemic, 43.5pc reported vaccination at delivery. In the early weeks of the vaccination programme rates of over 70pc were achieved.
"Of those vaccinated, 8.2pc, 57pc and 34.5pc were vaccinated in the first, second and third trimesters respectively. "