Vaccine-shy pregnant women at risk from flu, RCGP warns

Pregnant women are putting themselves at risk of flu with potentially lethal complications because they are reluctant to be vaccinated, the RCGP has warned.

Dr Maureen Baker: worried over vaccination rates in pregnant women
Dr Maureen Baker: worried over vaccination rates in pregnant women

A 'deep-rooted resistance' to vaccination during pregnancy means many women will be left unprotected this winter, according to RCGP health protection lead Dr Maureen Baker.

She called on GPs and midwives to encourage pregnant women to be vaccinated. Last winter, just 25.5% of pregnant women accepted the flu vaccine.

The warning follows the DH's decision not to advertise the flu vaccine nationally to the public this season.

Dr Baker said: 'We continue to worry about vaccination rates in pregnant women. Again, obstacles to vaccination are incompletely understood, but I feel there are a number of factors.

'Firstly, women may not be pregnant at the time of the vaccination campaign and, even if they are, they are often not individuals who regularly receive the vaccination.'

However, the causes of poor uptake extend beyond the lack of awareness, said Dr Baker. 'I believe there is also deep rooted resistance to vaccinations in pregnancy - this is a view also held by some health professionals.'

The RCGP will be issuing a bulletin next week to alert members to the risks of flu to pregnant women. It will summarise the latest scientific evidence for the vaccine's safety and effectiveness when used during pregnancy.

Dr Baker also warned there may be complacency among the general public following a mild winter in 2011/12 and low flu activity.

Meanwhile, the college's immunisation lead Dr George Kassianos said it was 'regrettable' the DH will not run a flu awareness campaign in England this winter. But he said the DH target to vaccinate 75% of at-risk people by 2013/14 was still achievable.

He said: 'A national public advertisement campaign could have helped us enormously but the lack of it will not deter general practice from achieving the target. No other country in the world can deliver vaccinations so fast and so efficiently as UK general practice. I am very optimistic.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GP looking tired

'Running on empty': one in four GPs warn extreme tiredness is affecting patient care

A quarter of GPs say they are regularly sleep deprived at work, while the same proportion...

Syringe extracting COVID-19 vaccine from vial

Thousands of unvaccinated GP staff face dismissal notice from February

Thousands of unvaccinated staff at GP practices could be handed their notice from...

MDU chief executive Dr Matthew Lee

Viewpoint: Tired and overworked GPs need better support

A recent survey has shown that many GPs are burnt out and exhausted. Urgent action...

Pins marking points on a map

Map: Which parts of England have the fastest-rising demand for GP appointments?

GP practices faced a massive increase in workload through 2021 as demand for appointments...

Sign pointing to entrance of COVID-19 vaccination hub

GPs partners subsidising COVID-19 vaccine campaign as bookings drop, GPs warn

GP practices running COVID-19 vaccine clinics may soon be forced to 'chuck in the...

Vaccination tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...