Vaccination during pregnancy: first line of defense for expecting mothers and vulnerable young infants

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Maternal vaccination is a well-tolerated and effective way to protect mothers, their developing fetuses, and their young infants from infectious diseases. Although influenza vaccine and diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine are recommended for all pregnant women, uptake rates in the United States remain low. This review will focus on the rationale, scientific evidence, and perceptions of vaccination during pregnancy.

Recent findings

Recent studies show that administration of influenza and Tdap vaccines during pregnancy is well tolerated and provides protection to the pregnant woman, her fetus, and young infant. Studies have shown that many pregnant women look to their obstetricians to guide their prenatal care. A strong provider recommendation remains the greatest impetus to increase vaccine uptake. Both healthcare providers and expectant mothers should continue to be educated on the importance and safety of the influenza and Tdap vaccines during pregnancy.

Summary

Providers play a central role in advising patients and their families about the importance of maternal vaccination. The strong recommendation of providers and the availability of maternal vaccines in OB/GYN offices are keys to improve vaccine uptake. Attention must be paid to further development of intervention techniques that address unique barriers such as vaccine cost, storage concerns, and misinformation about vaccine safety.

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