Urgent evaluation of the low immunization rates during pregnancy is demanded, according to UQ researchers.


Urgent evaluation of the low immunization rates during pregnancy is demanded, according to UQ researchers

Researchers from the University of Queensland are urging an immediate examination of the low rates of whooping cough and influenza vaccines among young and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander expectant mothers.

Researchers from the multi-jurisdictional Links2HealthierBubs study, who examined data from the largest observational cohort of mothers giving birth to children in Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory between 2012 and 2017, released the statistics.

Dr. Lisa McHugh, the principal investigator at the UQ School of Public Health, reported that scientists examined vaccination rates for nearly 600,000 expectant mothers.

Only 15% of the cohort received the influenza vaccine overall, while 27% received the whooping cough vaccine, according to Dr. McHugh.

And only 12% of people got both.

In comparison to non-Indigenous pregnancies, whooping cough vaccination rates were 20% lower in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander pregnancies, while influenza vaccination rates were also 20% lower.

In Australia, whooping cough vaccines were introduced in 2015 to protect infants under 6 months of age, while influenza vaccinations have long been advised and provided without charge to expectant mothers as they guard against serious infection.

According to Dr. McHugh, women who receive both vaccinations during pregnancy are more likely to do so if they receive prenatal care throughout the first trimester.

"Except First Nations women, Australia's whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy program has been a critical driver of influenza vaccine uptake in pregnancy," she said.

"Before the antenatal whooping cough vaccine program, First Nations mothers were more likely to have had an influenza vaccination during pregnancy; however, after the whooping cough vaccine was introduced, this trend began to decline.

"Early on in their pregnancies, pregnant women who are less likely to receive the flu shot should be informed about its significance so they can make an informed decision.

"A major element in boosting that adoption is providing the flu vaccine from a reputable healthcare provider.

"Before the next influenza pandemic or whooping cough outbreak, and immediately updated examination of these data and immunization approaches is required.

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