Flu shots safe for pregnant women

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A new retrospective analysis by the U.S. government of all influenza vaccines administered to pregnant women over the past 20 years shows that they are quite safe. Reuters Health reports that between 1990 and 2009, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) — the database used to document reports of adverse health effects possibly associated with vaccines — received just 175 reports about vaccinated pregnant women, 88 percent of them classified as “non-serious.” That translates to approximately 12.5 reported complications per one million pregnant women vaccinated for influenza. Though some women reported stillbirths or miscarriages, the rate fell well below average when compared to the general population — and just because a health problem is reported to VAERS doesn’t mean it was caused by vaccination.

ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan says this study reinforces ACSH’s recommendation that pregnant women should vaccinate with this year’s seasonal flu shot. “These findings apply even more forcefully to the new seasonal flu strain H1N1 (swine flu). The H1N1 that is now the dominant strain will not change so much as to reduce the threat to pregnant women. So, they are still likely to be the most vulnerable targets this year.”