Today, CDC released its October 2019 Vital Signs Report, “Burden and Prevention of Influenza and Pertussis Among U.S. Pregnant Women and Infants.” This report includes the latest findings on influenza and Tdap (whooping cough) vaccination rates among pregnant women. Key points from the report include:
Currently, the rates for these vaccines are too low – only 1 in 3 pregnant women in the United States receives both flu and Tdap vaccines. We don’t want to miss any opportunity for pregnant women to protect themselves and their newborns from these devastating illnesses. Flu vaccination lowers risk of influenza hospitalization in pregnant women by an average of 40%. It also reduces the risk of her baby needing hospital care for influenza. When an expecting mother gets Tdap in the third trimester, it is 78% effective in preventing cases of whooping cough in babies less than 2 months old. Tdap vaccination during pregnancy is even more effective at preventing hospitalization due to whooping cough in newborns.
Data indicate that education, referring patients to a vaccine provider, and the offer of vaccination by a provider play a significant role with getting vaccinated. Among women whose healthcare providers offered vaccination or provided referrals, 65.7% received a flu vaccine and 70.5% received Tdap. By encouraging vaccinations during pregnancy, mothers can make an informed choice to protect themselves and give their babies early protection.
Below are other key points from the report:
- Women with influenza are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized if they are pregnant, and babies less than 6 months old are at the highest risk of all children for influenza-associated hospitalization.
- The majority (69%) of reported whooping cough deaths are in babies less than 2 months old.
- Reported maternal flu and Tdap vaccination coverage rates were 54% and 55%, respectively.
- Provider recommendations are vital—among women whose healthcare providers offered vaccination or provided referrals, 65.7% received a flu vaccine and 70.5% received Tdap—but many pregnant women do not receive the vaccines recommended to protect themselves and their newborns, even when offered vaccination. The most commonly reported reasons for non-vaccination were belief that the flu vaccine is not effective (17.6%) and not knowing that Tdap vaccination is needed during each pregnancy (37.9%).
- Providers should start discussing the benefits of vaccination with women early in pregnancy, strongly recommend flu and Tdap vaccines to all pregnant women, and address women’s questions and concerns about getting vaccinated during pregnancy.