Influenza season is fast approaching in North America. Flu activity in the United States was low during the first year of the pandemic,1 likely because individuals were taking preventive precautions, such as washing hands frequently, wearing masks, and staying home. Flu vaccination rates in the United States also decreased from the 2019–20 to 2021–22 seasons, particularly among pregnant individuals, from 65.5% to 51.8%.2
Timing, intensity, and severity of the 2022–23 influenza season cannot be predicted. With the continued spread of COVID-19 and its new variants across the United States and the surge in monkeypox cases, it's critical that health care professionals help protect their patients' health from all angles. This year, as always, providing that protection means recommending that all patients—especially those who are pregnant—receive the flu vaccine.
ACOG and the CDC urge all health care professionals to vaccinate or recommend vaccination against the flu for patients 6 months of age and older, including patients who are or will become pregnant during flu season. Pregnant people are at an increased risk of severe disease, complications, and hospitalization related to the flu. Receiving a flu vaccine can play an important role in protecting patient health—and the health of their families, as infants cannot be vaccinated until 6 months of age.
As indoor fall and winter activities resume, it's important that health care professionals share with their patients the importance of getting vaccinated annually against the flu. A health care professional's strong recommendation is the most important factor in a patient's decision to be vaccinated. To help ensure that as many people as possible are protected against the flu this season, health care professionals should strongly recommend that all patients, including pregnant patients, be vaccinated against the flu as soon as possible to prevent illness.
Getting an annual flu vaccine should be on everyone's fall checklist—especially when it comes to pregnant individuals. And with COVID-19 still spreading, it's critical that health care professionals help their patients protect themselves from all vaccine-preventable diseases. The flu vaccine can play a key role in keeping patients, their families, and their communities safe and healthy through flu season.
As health care professionals look toward flu season, ACOG highlights our resources to help health care professionals educate their patients on the importance and benefits of getting the flu vaccine and prepare to answer any questions their patients may have about the flu or the flu vaccine. With ACOG's flu resources, health care professionals can make sure they're prepared to defend against the flu on all fronts. Health care professionals can protect pregnant patients and their families this flu season by encouraging patients and staff to get vaccinated against the flu—and by doing so themselves.
- CDC. 2020–21 Flu Season Summary FAQ. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2020-2021.htm
- Cumulative Influenza Vaccination Coverage, by Month, Flu Season, and Race/Ethnicity, Pregnant Persons 18-49 years, United States, Data Source: Vaccine Safety Datalink, Data are current through April 16, 2022.