New study finds flu shots are safe for pregnant women
MINNEAPOLIS – Feb. 6, 2013 – Pregnant women who received a flu shot were not any more likely to experience health complications during the first six weeks after vaccination than expectant mothers who opted against getting the flu vaccine, according to new research conducted by the HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research and collaborators.
The study was e-published Feb. 6 in Obstetrics & Gynecology, the official publication of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
An estimated 6 million women in the United States become pregnant each year, most for at least a portion of the traditional influenza season. Pregnant women are at an increased risk for serious complications from the flu and are more likely than non-pregnant women to be hospitalized because of the flu. Getting the flu during pregnancy can also impact fetal growth and is a risk factor for preterm delivery. Many pregnant women, however, decide not to get a flu shot.
“We’ve been recommending that women at all stages of pregnancy get a seasonal flu vaccine for years, but concerns regarding its safety have remained,” said Jim Nordin, MD, MPH, the study’s lead author and a pediatrician with HealthPartners in St. Paul, Minn. “I hope this study will reassure women and their health care providers about the safety of the influenza vaccination.”
In the study, 75,906 vaccinated and 147,992 unvaccinated pregnant women between ages 14 and 49 were matched by age, site, and pregnancy start date to observe any health events associated with the flu shot. The research team found that receipt of the vaccine during pregnancy was not associated with an increased risk of the complications studied, including allergic reactions, cellulitis, and seizures within the first three days or cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, optic neuritis, transverse myelitis, or Bells palsy within the first 42 days.
Seven Vaccine Safety Datalink sites (Group Health Cooperative, HealthPartners, Kaiser Permanente Colorado, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, and Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation) contributed data for this study. This is the first large cohort study of vaccine safety during pregnancy for the Vaccine Safety Datalink.
HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research
HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research is a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of its members, patients and community by providing outstanding health, experience and affordability outcomes through discovery and continuous learning. Our researchers are dedicated to conducting high-quality, public-domain health research, proposed and led by multidisciplinary teams of independent PhD- and MD-level investigators. Our health professional educators provide nationally accredited graduate medical education, continuing medical education and clinical simulation emphasizing the use of quality improvement and experiential learning.