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WHO has the highest priority for influenza? PREGNANT WOMEN!

For the first time, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that pregnant women be placed at the highest priority for influenza vaccination. This is a just-released positional paper dated 23 November 2012.

Pregnant Women are at risk for severe influenza

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

In essence, this leading authority acknowledges that pregnant women are an especially vulnerable group to influenza. They are 7.2 times more likely to be hospitalized and the rate of hospitalization was 4.3 times higher than comparable non-pregnant women. This was based on data from 2009 H1N1 swine influenza.

I support this, and stress that this protection is further passed on to the newborn (from passive antibodies through the placenta). Children are at a higher risk for hospitalisation from influenza compared to an adult. At less than six months, they are extremely vulnerable. And yet, influenza vaccinations are not approved for use in children less than six months old. The only way to help them is with vaccination of the pregnant mother.

In short, vaccination of the mother helps both the mother and the childI don’t think you get a better deal than that!

Do you know someone who is pregnant? Share this information, and it may just save a life!

Influenza vaccination can be safely given from the second trimester. Another vaccination to consider is Tdap or tetanus, diptheria and acellular pertussis. And if you are still wondering, my wife received influenza vaccinations during her three pregnancies.

Many thanks to Ms Shirley Ang who highlighted this to me.

References

1. Weekly Epidemiological Record. 2012 Nov 23;87(47):461-76. http://www.who.int/wer/2012/wer8747.pdf

2. Creanga AA et al. Severity of 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in pregnant women. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2010, 115:717–726.

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