Both mother and baby are at increased risk for complications of flu infection during pregnancy and prenatal care providers say they advise women to get the flu vaccine, but many pregnant women don't do it.

Robert Arao, MPH, a biostatistician at Group Health Research Institute, did a statewide survey to assess what doctors think and do about flu vaccines for pregnant women. 

The results were that most doctors who provide prenatal care in Oregon understood the importance of flu vaccination during pregnancy and communicated it to their patients. The research team mailed a survey to a random sample of more than 1,000 obstetricians and family physicians in Oregon.

Of the survey respondents who had provided prenatal care in the last year, nearly 9 in 10 said they routinely recommended flu vaccine to their healthy pregnant patients. Doctors who were younger, saw more pregnant patients, or both were even more likely to do recommend the vaccine.

Yet nationwide, only half of American women get the flu vaccine while pregnant, and 25 percent of pregnant women who receive a recommendation from a clinician to get the vaccine actually get the vaccine. As prior studies have shown, the Pacific Northwest has an anti-science culture about vaccines and so the rates for many vaccinations, not just flu, tend to be lower than those for the nation as a whole. This is replicated in states like New York and California, where some schools have essential vaccine rates in the 25 percent range, even for children.

"Women understand the importance of not putting potential toxins, like alcohol and tobacco, into their body during pregnancy," Mr. Arao said, "But women need to understand that getting a flu vaccination during pregnancy protects both the mother and the baby." 

Alcohol in moderation has never been shown to have a detrimental impact on an unborn child so it is probably just that vaccines need better marketing. In hotbeds of anti-science sentiment, such as California and Washington, the marketing is also going against doctors.

 Article: "Influenza vaccination of pregnant women: attitudes and behaviors of Oregon physician prenatal care providers", with Kenneth D. Rosenberg, MD, MPH and Katrina Hedberg, MD, MPH, of OHA's Public Health Division, and Shannon McWeeney, PhD, of OHSU, Maternal and Child Health journal.
Source: Group Health Research Institute