Many Pregnant Irish Women Not Getting Flu Jab Due To Cost According To Study
A new study by the Department of Obstetrics in UCD in conjunction with the National Maternity Hospital has found that more than 40 women with the flu have been admitted to the hospital over a five-year period.
According to the HSE, the flu can have serious ramifications for an expectant mother and their unborn child. Currently, the flu vaccine is recommended for all pregnant woman, regardless what stage of gestation they are at.
The study has revealed however that just a third of the 504 mothers surveyed had received the vaccination. This research was carried out over a two-week period.
Researchers believe that the cost of the injection is contributing to many women not getting the vaccine.
The study also found that of the women surveyed, 139 were unaware that the vaccine is recommended in pregnancy, while women over 30 years of age were the most likely to get the flu jab. The up-take was also found to be lower among women availing of the public care system while nearly half of the expectant mothers in semi-private or private care opted to get the injection.
Researchers writing in the Irish Medical Journal demanded a better public campaign to raise awareness among expectant mothers and also suggested the HSE introduce a free flu vaccination for pregnant women.
Complications that can arise from flu in pregnancy include:
- Increased risk of blood infection
- Increased risk of inflammation of the brain
- Increased risk of premature birth
- Increased risk of low birth weight
According to the HSE guidelines:
"Pregnant women are more likely to become very ill from flu due to changes in their heart and lung function. They are more likely to need admission to hospital and even to Intensive Care Unit. Getting flu in pregnancy may also lead to premature birth and smaller birth weight."
"In addition infants under 6 months of age have the highest rate of hospitalisation and death from influenza."
"The seasonal flu vaccine will provide protection to both mother and infant and can be given at any stage of pregnancy."