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Influenza, pertussis vax in pregnancy: lifting rates

Cate Swannell
Med J Aust
Published online: 21 April 2019

WOMEN born overseas, those who smoked during pregnancy and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were less likely to be vaccinated against influenza during their pregnancies, according to research published online today by the Medical Journal of Australia.

The retrospective analysis of data from 153 980 pregnancies which ended in live birth or stillbirth between July 2015 and June 2017, found that, overall, 39% of pregnant women were vaccinated against influenza. Coverage varied by pregnancy end date, rising for influenza during winter and spring, but rising continuously across the two years for pertussis from 37.5% to 82.2%.

“Factors associated with vaccination included greater maternal age, primigravidity, early antenatal care, and GP-led care,” wrote the authors, led by Ms Stacey Rowe, Principal Epidemiologist at the Department of Health and Human Services, and a PhD candidate at Monash University.

“The odds of vaccination were statistically significantly lower for women born overseas and those who smoked during pregnancy; the odds of vaccination were also lower for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Influenza and pertussis vaccinations during pregnancy are safe and effectively prevent infections in women and their infants, the authors wrote.

“Uptake of influenza vaccination may be influenced by concerns among pregnant women and antenatal care providers about the severity of infection during pregnancy and the safety of influenza vaccines,” Rowe and colleagues wrote.

“Pregnant women are generally more concerned about health risks to their infants than to themselves; as they view influenza as primarily as their own problem, but pertussis as a greater risk for their babies, women are more likely to accept pertussis vaccination.

“Maternal vaccination remains the most effective strategy for preventing influenza and pertussis in pregnant women and their infants, and embedding its delivery into antenatal care pathways should be a priority,” they concluded.

  • Cate Swannell


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