Leading Health Care Groups Urge Providers To Talk to Pregnant Women About Influenza Vaccine

Pregnant women have high risk for serious complications from flu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Friday, December 09, 2011

Contact:
Megan Moriarty
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5223
mmoriarty@aafp.org

LEAWOOD, Kan. — The nation’s leading health care organizations joined forces today in a common message stressing the importance of pregnant women being vaccinated against seasonal influenza to protect themselves and their unborn babies. In a group letter sent to health care professionals nationwide, leaders from the groups emphasized the increased number of deaths among pregnant women from influenza and provided helpful information for medical professionals.

The letter was signed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Pharmacists Association, the Association for Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the March of Dimes, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the National Influenza Vaccine Summit, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The letter urges health care professionals to vaccinate their pregnant patients and counsel them on the benefits of the vaccine.

"Family physicians can have a real impact by simply talking with their pregnant patients about all of the immunizations recommended during pregnancy and in the postpartum period," said Glen Stream, MD, MBI, president of the AAFP. “Lack of awareness of the benefits of vaccination and concerns about vaccine safety are common barriers, but pregnant patients whose health care provider recommend and offer influenza vaccination are almost five times more likely to be vaccinated.”

The influenza vaccine is safe to administer to pregnant women in any trimester. Pregnant women should be given the flu shot, not the nasal spray version of the vaccine.

Pregnant women carry a heightened risk for serious complications and death from the flu due to changes in the immune system, as well as in the heart and lungs, during pregnancy. Influenza is five times more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant.

You can view the joint letter here(www.cdc.gov). For more information on pregnancy and vaccination against the flu, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/pregnant.htm(www.cdc.gov).

# # #

Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 131,400 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. Follow us on Twitter,(twitter.com) and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(familydoctor.org).