Race and ethnicity appear to be factors in the likelihood of pregnant women being vaccinated against influenza, according to a new study.

The report in the journal Vaccine states, “Pregnant women are at increased risk of hospitalization, serious complications, poor pregnancy outcomes, and mortality from influenza. Prior research suggests that there are racial/ethnic disparities in vaccination coverage and that a healthcare provider vaccination recommendation is associated with significantly higher vaccine uptake than without such a recommendation.”

Researchers from the College for Public Health & Social Justice at Saint Louis University sought to examine racial/ethnic disparities in healthcare providers’ recommendations for pregnant women to receive the influenza vaccine and in vaccine uptake.

To do that, the study team conducted a cross-sectional, population-based study, analyzing data from the CDC’s Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) during 2012–2015. More than 130,000 individual patients were included in the  review.

Results indicate that the percentage of women receiving influenza vaccine during pregnancy ranged from 39.1% among non-Hispanic (NH) Black women to 55.4% among NH Asian women.

In the adjusted analysis, NH Black and NH Asian women had 19% (95% CI, 0.75-0.86) and 34% (95% CI, 0.61-0.72) decreased odds of receiving a provider recommendation for influenza vaccine during pregnancy, respectively, compared with non-Hispanic White women.

Overall, for influenza vaccine uptake, NH Black women were 30% less likely (95% CI, 0.65-0.74) to receive influenza vaccine during pregnancy compared with NH White women.

“Our findings indicate that there are racial/ethnic disparities in healthcare provider recommendation and influenza vaccine uptake among pregnant women in the United States,” study authors conclude. “Targeted efforts toward providers and interventions focusing on pregnant women may be warranted to reduce the disparity.”

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