Low Vaccination Rates During Pregnancy Leave New Moms, Babies at Risk, CDC Says

More than half of pregnant women in the U.S. – 65 percent – have not received “two safe and effective vaccines” recommended to reduce the risks of influenza (flu) and whooping cough (pertussis) to protect both new moms and their infants, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

When pregnant women are vaccinated, they relay antibodies to the fetus, providing babies protection after birth. Newborns are too young to be vaccinated after birth. Without their moms’ vaccinations, newborns who get influenza or whooping cough are at high risk of hospitalization and death, the CDC explains.

Moreover, pregnant women have more than double the risk of hospitalization, compared to nonpregnant women of childbearing age, if they come down with the flu, the agency says. Since 2010, among women ages 15 to 44 years who were hospitalized for influenza, 24 percent to 34 percent of them were pregnant – even though only about 9 percent of U.S. women in this age group are pregnant at any given time each year, the CDC said in its report.

CDC recommends that all pregnant women should get a flu vaccine during any trimester of each pregnancy, and the whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) during the early part of the third trimester of each pregnancy as part of routine prenatal care.

“CDC strongly recommends that health care providers speak with moms-to-be about the benefits of safe Tdap and flu vaccination for their health and the well-being of their babies,” says CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D.

A study last year revealed that the flu virus can spread more easily than previously thought, possibly putting more pregnant women and other vulnerable kids and adults at an even higher risk level. The flu virus spreads mainly by droplets formed when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. But the study, funded by the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, found new evidence that coughs and sneezes may not be necessary to fill the air with droplets of the flu virus. That finding gives the flu a potentially expanded airborne quality.

“When you are looking at flu virus droplets that are so small — that spreading the virus by breathing in close proximity would be logical,”  says Sergio Segarra, M.D., chief medical officer at Baptist Hospital of Miami and an emergency physician. “That, in addition to the virus living up to 24 hours on surfaces, makes it that much worse.”

In its new report, the CDC surveyed nearly 2,100 women, ages 18 to 49, who were pregnant any time between August 2018 and April 2019.

Among the CDC’s survey findings:

  • 54 percent of pregnant women reported getting a flu vaccine before or during pregnancy.
  • 55 percent of women reported receiving Tdap during pregnancy.
  • Women whose health care providers offered or referred them for vaccination had the highest vaccination rates.

Free Flu Shots from Baptist Health

Baptist Health is offering free flu shots at four locations throughout South Florida. No appointments necessary. No prescription required. No wait. Just walk in, get the shot and walk out the door. :

Miami-Dade County:

  • Baptist Health Urgent Care Express in Key Biscayne ( 240 Crandon Blvd Suite 110, Key Biscayne)
  • Baptist Health Urgent Care Express in Country Walk (Corsica Square shopping center, 15721 SW 152nd St, Miami)

Boward County:

  • Baptist Health Urgent Care Express in Coral Springs (Shoppes at Heron Lakes, 5673 Coral Ridge Dr, Coral Springs)

Palm Beach County:

  • Bethesda Urgent Care in Wellington (Wellington Green Mall, 10520 Forest Hill Blvd, Wellington)

You can get directions and hours for each location at

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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