Most doctors do not recommend flu shots to pregnant patients, yet those women are more likely to develop serious complications if they do get the flu, according to a new report.
In the review of past studies, researchers also found that pregnant women had concerns about the safety of the flu vaccine and tended to underestimate the risk that the virus posed to themselves and their fetuses.
“The research is clear that health care providers are not providing advice to pregnant women about the importance and benefits of getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Marie Tarrant, who worked on the study at Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong.
“In addition, they are not making influenza vaccine available to their pregnant clients,” she said. “By their silence, they are sending a message that influenza vaccine is actually not that important.”
One study found pregnant women were five times as likely to be admitted to hospital with the flu as other women, Tarrant said.
Flu vaccines given to pregnant women immunize them and protect their infants against the flu until they are six months old, the researchers write in the journal Vaccine.