Pregnant women not getting safe flu shot: UBCO study

Some health professionals are refusing to give pregnant women a flu vaccine despite their risks if they get the flu.

  • Nov. 22, 2016 5:00 p.m.
Marie Tarrant is the director of nursing at UBC's Okanagan campus.

Marie Tarrant is the director of nursing at UBC's Okanagan campus.

Health-care professionals are hesitant to administer the flu vaccine to pregnant women, despite the potential life-saving benefits, according to a UBC study.

The study also shows that pregnant women who were eager to get vaccinated had difficulties because health professionals turned them away.

“The World Health Organization and Health Canada have classified pregnant women as one of the highest at-risk groups of having serious complications following influenza infection,” says Marie Tarrant, director of nursing at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “Given this, the health-care community should work together to protect these moms and their infants. Flu vaccination is one of the best ways.”

“This was a surprising finding.”

Tarrant and her team, including co-author Valerie Wong of the University of Hong Kong, embarked on a research campaign to assess the effect of a brief flu vaccination education program targeted to pregnant women. The study was conducted in Hong Kong where vaccination rates are particularly low and there are two flu seasons.

The researcher found that one-to-one education interventions significantly increased vaccination rates yet the uptake was still low. Upon follow-up with the women, they discovered that some doctors refused to vaccinate or that the vaccines were unavailable.

“Even with the knowledge of benefits of vaccination, there still is this long-held belief that pregnant women should minimize exposing the fetus to any unknown substance, especially those injected into the body,” says Tarrant. “I believe this reluctance is common worldwide.”

“Targeted interventions to health-care professionals and enhanced maternal education may help to address concerns and fears about flu vaccination, and lead to optimal and improved vaccination coverage.”

The flu is a respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses. Canadians typically contract the flu during the late fall and winter. Symptoms may include high fever, chills, sore throat, cough and tiredness. Most people recover within a week but some, including pregnant women, the very young and those over 65 years old, are at increased risk for severe complications. Globally, annual epidemics result in an about one billion cases of influenza, three to five million cases of severe illness, and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths.

Almost 30 per cent of Canadians were vaccinated against the flu last year. This is substantially below Health Canada’s target of 80 per cent.

The study, recently published in Vaccine, was funded by the Health and Medical Research Fund, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

 

Kelowna Capital News

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP issue warning after woman assaulted while walking in Rutland

On Saturday, the unknown man ran up and grabbed her in an inappropriate manner before fleeing

A West Cabs driver is being investigated for an incident which allegedly took place this week. (West Cabs)
West Kelowna cab driver under investigation after altercation over his lack of mask

Passenger alleges cab driver became confrontational when asked about wearing mask

(Pixabay)
‘We need to be empathetic’; Kelowna support worker speaks out after disabled individual denied haircut

Individual with severe autism denied service at a Kelowna hair salon for not wearing mask

Kelowna Fire Department. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Farm animals safe after Kelowna barn catches fire

The fire was started after animals knocked over a heat lamp; the barn was consumed

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Kelowna fire crews quickly knock down blaze inside home

The fire was reported around 9:30 p.m. inside a suite attached large home

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

Supt. Brian Hunter will be presenting first quarter RCMP stats to Penticton city council, tomorrow (April 21). (Phil McLachlan - Western News - File)
South Okanagan RCMP superintendent wants to set up dedicated prolific offender task force

Supt. Brian Hunter plans to use the additional officers city council approved for the force

Vees goalkeeper Yaniv Perets stands watch while Tyler Ho takes the puck around the back of the net on Nov. 7. The BCHL press release did not name the player who tested positive.(Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees quarantining after player tests positive for COVID-19

The team, staff and billets are isolating while they are tested

Parents are urged to be on alert after a potential child abduction attempt took place near Armstrong Elementary School Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (amsas/neden photo)
Possible child abduction attempt at North Okanagan elementary school prompts warning

A letter from the school’s principal urges parents to be on high alert

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COLUMN: Anti-maskers’ message misses the mark

Following COVID-19 restrictions now could determine just how happy our holidays are

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Interior Wildfire Rehabilitation Society is looking for 10-15 acres to house a rehab centre for injured and orphaned wildlife like deer and moose calves. (Black Press file photo)
Okanagan group look for property to house wildlife rehab centre

The Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society is looking for 10 acres for injured/orphaned animals

Most Read