New research just published in the MJA has shown low rates of influenza vaccination uptake among pregnant women and that healthcare professional advice is crucial in influencing women to have the vaccine.

The University of Sydney study of 815 pregnant women in three NSW hospitals, revealed uptake of the vaccine was just 27 per cent, however pregnant women were 20 times more likely to have the vaccine if advised by a healthcare worker.

The study also showed that only 42 per cent of pregnant women are receiving advice from healthcare professionals to have the flu vaccination.

The study’s co-authors wrote that, “pregnant women with influenza have an increased risk of complications, including hospitalisation, intensive care unit admission, pre-term delivery and, in severe cases, death.”

“A growing body of evidence supports the safety and effectiveness of inactivated influenza vaccine during pregnancy,” they wrote.

With recent debates raging in the media over vaccinating babies, the study highlights how critical it is, especially for vulnerable people to protect themselves from influenza infection, which can lead to potentially life-threatening complications.

The study revealed that differences in uptake were attributable to how the vaccine was promoted and the ease of accessing it.

“It is important to continue to promote influenza vaccination as a cornerstone of protection against infection and adverse outcomes… Vaccination remains the single best defence against influenza, however improved vaccines will make policy setting and promotion of vaccination much easier,” the authors wrote.

When will the message cut through?