(HealthDay News) – All pregnant women should receive influenza vaccine, regardless of their stage of pregnancy, according to an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee Opinion published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Noting that all adults are encouraged to receive an annual influenza vaccine, researchers from the ACOG Committee on Obstetric Practice and Immunization Expert Work Group discuss influenza vaccination in pregnant women.

The researchers report that pregnant women are at an increased risk of serious illness due to seasonal and pandemic influenza, and consequently influenza vaccination is an essential element of preconception, prenatal, and postpartum care. Influenza vaccination rates have increased among pregnant women since 2010, but considerable improvement is still needed. Women who are or will be pregnant during an influenza season should receive an inactivated influenza vaccine as soon as it is available. All obstetrician-gynecologists and providers of obstetric care should advocate for influenza vaccination, provide the vaccine to their pregnant patients, and receive the vaccine themselves.

“The flu virus is highly infectious and can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women, as it can cause pneumonia, premature labor, and other complications,” Laura Riley, MD, from the Immunization Expert Work Group, said in a statement. “Vaccination every year, early in the season and regardless of the stage of pregnancy is the best line of defense.”

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