By Jack O’Brien
Most mothers-to-be have not received vaccinations for both the flu or whooping cough according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tuesday afternoon.
Nearly two-thirds of expecting mothers have not received the recommended vaccines, prompting the CDC to urge expecting mothers to receive the shots as part of “routine prenatal care.”
The lack of vaccination puts the health of both the mother and child at risk, the CDC said, as women with influenza are twice as likely to be hospitalized if they are pregnant and nearly 70% of whooping cough deaths came from babies less than two months old.
Educating expecting mothers is another challenge for the agency as nearly 40% of pregnant women who did not receive a vaccine for whooping cough said they didn’t know the shot was necessary during each pregnancy.
“I want to reinforce that all expectant mothers should be up-to-date with recommended vaccinations as part of their routine prenatal care,” CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., said in a statement. “CDC strongly recommends that health care providers speak with moms-to-be about the benefits of safe Tdap and flu vaccination for their health and the well-being of their babies.”
Outside of the immediate health risks facing the mother, a primary concern for the CDC is the effect of influenza and whooping cough on babies.
The agency reported that babies less than six months old have the highest rate of influenza-associated hospitalizations and deaths among children, while more than two-thirds of babies less than two months old with whooping cough must be hospitalized.
However, the CDC pointed to the effectiveness of vaccines for pregnant women, as flu shots reduced the hospitalization rate of babies less than six months old by 72%.
Similarly, the whooping cough vaccine lowered the rate of hospitalization for babies less than two months old by 91%.
Despite most mothers not receiving both vaccines, the CDC reported that between August 2018 and April 2019, 55% of pregnant women received a whooping cough vaccine before or during pregnancy and 54% received a flu shot.
There were disparities among those who received vaccines, as women with providers that referred them for a vaccine had higher vaccination rates and African-American expecting mothers reported lower vaccination rates.
Jack O’Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.