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Influenza Immunization in Pregnancy

MacDonald, Noni E., MD, MSc, FRCPc1; Riley, Laura E., MD2; Steinhoff, M C., MD3

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181af6ce8
Current Commentary

Among healthy persons, two groups are notable for increased risk of serious illness and hospitalization with influenza infection: healthy women in pregnancy and their healthy infants (aged 0 to 6 months). Inactivated influenza vaccine has been used in pregnant women since the 1960s in both the United States and Canada; however, currently, only 15% of pregnant women receive the vaccine. A randomized, controlled trial has shown influenza immunization of pregnant women reduced influenza-like illness by more than 30% in both the mothers and the infants and reduced laboratory-proven influenza infections in 0- to 6-month-old infants by 63%. Physicians caring for pregnant women should be aware of the risks of influenza and of the availability of an effective and cost-saving intervention.

A single influenza immunization in pregnancy will safely and effectively protect both mother and her infant during the high-risk time periods.

From the 1Division Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Dalhousie University, IWK Health Center, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; and 3Children’s Global Health Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.

See related editorial on page 206.

Corresponding author: M. C. Steinhoff, MD, Children’s Global Health Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2009 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.