Intended for healthcare professionals


Flu vaccination in pregnancy

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 10 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4454

Linked research

Health outcomes of young children born to mothers who received 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccination during pregnancy

  1. Siri E Håberg, specialist director1,
  2. Allen J Wilcox, scientist emeritus1 2
  1. 1Centre For Fertility and Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Epidemiology Branch, National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, Durham, NC 27709, USA
  1. Correspondence to S E Håberg SiriEldevik.Haberg{at}

Vaccination of pregnant women saves lives

A paper published in The BMJ this week (doi:10.1136/bmj.l4151) provides new data on the long term safety of influenza vaccine for children exposed to the vaccine in utero.1 The study by Walsh and colleagues adds reassuring results to a complex problem. In line with public recommendations in most countries, official policy in England is that all pregnant women should be offered vaccination for influenza,2 but not even half of pregnant women in England were vaccinated in the 2017-18 flu season.3 Coverage is similar or even lower in Europe and the US.45 Why is this?

The benefits of vaccination for pregnant women and their newborn infants are well documented.678 Influenza has rare but dangerous sequelae, and pregnant women are several times more vulnerable than other people to those sequelae.4 Evidence indicates that the risk of stillbirth is also increased with infection.9 Vaccinating pregnant women against influenza reduces the chance of infection and its feared complications. …

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