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Flu vaccination: the rate of uptake during pregnancy in England

Exploring the role that health professionals play in the dissemination of information about the flu jab to mothers and pregnant women in England   

Exploring the role that health professionals play in the dissemination of information about the flu jab to mothers and pregnant women in England  


Picture: Alamy

Maternal vaccination programmes in the UK aim to protect pregnant women and their young babies against seasonal influenza and babies from birth against pertussis. However, the rate of uptake flu vaccination during pregnancy in England was only 42.3% in 2015-16.

84%

of health professionals were aware that pertussis and influenza vaccines were recommended during pregnancy

Health professionals play an important role in informing women and recommending vaccination. This cross-sectional online survey examined the knowledge of 3,441 practice nurses, health visitors and midwives about vaccination in pregnancy and whether they recommend scheduled vaccines.

Overall, 84% were aware that pertussis and influenza vaccines were recommended during pregnancy although this varied by professional group (91% practice nurses, 85% midwives, 59% health visitors).  

The majority of practice nurses were actively involved in giving pregnant women vaccinations, with 73% saying they would recommend the influenza and 74% the pertussis vaccine. Practice nurses were also more likely to recommend these vaccines than midwives and health visitors.

73% 

of pratice nurses were actively involved in giving pregnant women vaccinations

Recommendation was linked to whether the health professional personally would have these vaccinations or had had the influenza vaccination that year. Those who had had immunisation training reported themselves as more confident in giving advice to pregnant women.

This suggests that immunisation training is important in improving vaccination rates in pregnant women.

Vishram B, Letley L, Jan Van Hoek A et al (2018) Vaccination in pregnancy: attitudes of nurses, midwives and health visitors in England. Journal of Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics. 14, 1, 179-188. doi: 10.1080/21645515.2017.1382789


About the author

Vari Drennan is professor of healthcare and policy research, St George’s University of London and Kingston University, London

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