Friday, October 23, 2009
Because of the risks from flu, they should be among the first in line to get both the H1N1 and seasonal influenza shots, medical experts say. Yet many are averse to vaccinations or medication.
As the H1N1 influenza vaccine trickles into clinics and pharmacies over the next few weeks, public health officials and doctors desperately hope that pregnant women will be at the front of the line for the shot. Past influenza pandemics have proved that they’re at increased risk for severe complications — and they appear to be even more vulnerable to this new flu strain.
On Thursday, a consortium of major medical groups, including the American Medical Assn., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, released a statement pleading with pregnant women to get both the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines.
But pregnant women have a well-established antipathy toward vaccinations, with only 15% getting the flu vaccine in any given year, compared with 30% of the general population, according to CDC reports. The current shortage of the H1N1 vaccine may further stymie efforts at widespread immunization. Moreover, pregnant women distrust medications in general — even though flu vaccines could prevent or mitigate infection should they be exposed.
All of these factors indicate doctors’ hopes will go unrealized even as rates of flu-related deaths, hospitalizations and preterm births rise.
Full story here.