Dr. Ross says the research is particularly important for two reasons: First, infants aren’t eligible for flu shots until they’re six months old; and second, the 2009 pandemic showed that the new endemic H1N1 influenza strain is especially deadly for pregnant women and infants.
In an accompanying editorial, Justin R. Ortiz, M.D., and Kathleen M. Neuzil, M.D., M.P.H., of PATH and the University of Washington, Seattle, say the findings should encourage adoption of maternal immunization guidelines in countries without them. “Maternal influenza vaccination targets two high-risk groups with one vaccine dose,” theywrite. “We can’t afford not to act.”
“We have to reiterate that message — get your flu shot, especially if you’re pregnant,” says Dr. Ross. “It’s especially dangerous now for pregnant women to give in to superstitious fears about vaccines.”