According to a recently published morbidity and mortality weekly report, during the 2019–20 flu season, 61.2% of pregnant patients received an influenza vaccine before or during their pregnancy, an increase of 7.5 percentage points compared with the 2018–19 season. Importantly, vaccination coverage was again highest among those who reported receiving a direct provider offer or referral for vaccination.
While overall influenza vaccination rates among pregnant patients remain suboptimal, this report is encouraging. This is the largest increase in influenza vaccination among pregnant patients in many years. It is important to highlight that this increase is largely due to increases in vaccination rates among Black and Hispanic pregnant patients, showing progress towards reducing disparities in vaccination coverage. However, racial and ethnic disparities in flu vaccination coverage persist and must be addressed to continue the noted progress.
ACOG recommends that all adults receive an annual influenza vaccine and that people who are or will be pregnant during influenza flu season receive an inactivated influenza vaccine as soon as it is available in the fall. Any of the licensed, recommended, age-appropriate, inactivated influenza vaccines can be given safely during any trimester.
Maternal influenza immunization is an essential component of prenatal care for patients and their newborns. Obstetrician–gynecologists and other health care professionals should counsel pregnant patients about the safety and benefits of influenza immunization for themselves and their fetuses and advocate for the benefits of passive immunity from maternal immunization for their newborns.
Visit the CDC’s FluVaxView website for access to all vaccination coverage estimates from the 2019–20 flu season.