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Swine flu vaccination: why won't women have it?
  1. L C Ashelby,
  2. J Trinder
  1. St Michael's Hospital, Bristol, UK


Background Pregnant women are high risk for severe influenza A H1N1/09 infection (‘Swine Flu’) and subsequent fetal and maternal complications. Trivalent seasonal flu vaccination offers protection against influenza A H1N1/09. Recent Department of Health and Health Protection Agency advice is to vaccinate all pregnant women with trivalent influenza vaccine (including H1N1/09). The CEMACE report into H1N1 infection related deaths showed that none of the women received seasonal or H1N1 vaccination. Studies show pregnant women have low uptake of influenza vaccination.

Method 50 consecutive women attending consultant antenatal clinic were asked to complete a structured answer survey into perception and uptake of the trivalent vaccination. Results were collated and analysed.

Results One survey was not completed. 100% had heard of the trivalent influenza vaccine, the media had greater influence than healthcare professionals. 57% had been offered vaccination, mainly by general practitioner's. Only 40% had received vaccine, 45% following healthcare professionals' advice. Women chose not to be vaccinated because of fetal safety fears and perception that they were low risk. 63% of women said they would be vaccinated if they knew about serious complications of H1N1 infection

Conclusion H1N1 infection can be severe in pregnancy and is preventable by vaccination. We showed that the media has a greater effect on patient information than healthcare professionals, but the main reason women are vaccinated is due to medical advice and assurance. Pregnant women are open to being vaccinated once serious effects of disease are known and safety fears are addressed.

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