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Role of GPs emphasised in encouraging pregnant women to get flu vaccine

In October, the Medical Independent (MI) reported that there was concern with the low uptake of the flu vaccine among pregnant women raised at recent meetings of the Pandemic Influenza Expert Group (PIEG).

At the April meeting of the group, it was noted that no pregnant women had died during flu season, “but cases were admitted to ICU,” according to minutes seen by MI under a Freedom of Information request

The same minutes also mention: “It has been noted that some clinicians have been a barrier for pregnant women receiving the vaccine.”

When asked about the nature of this “barrier”, the HSE told MI that there is research evidence that GPs have a significant impact on pregnant women’s choices in terms of vaccination.

“Information from a study in 2013 and also from a telephone survey done in August-September 2013, that asked women who had given birth during the previous influenza season if they had received the influenza vaccine, indicated that of those women who were aware of the influenza recommendation during pregnancy, the GP was the most common source of information,” said the Executive spokesperson.

“The telephone survey also indicated that in general, for all adults who did receive the influenza vaccine, that if the GP recommends the influenza vaccine there was a strong association with them getting the vaccine.

“In order to improve uptake in pregnant women, GPs receive information at the beginning of the influenza season and are provided with information on the groups for whom the vaccine is recommended (including pregnant women). They are also provided with the influenza vaccine for these women that can be administered in the GP practice.”

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