The Director of the Division of Public Health Information Dissemination from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will discuss ways to improve vaccination rates for pregnant women during this afternoon’s March of Dimes Annual Lecture.
Sonja Rasmussen, MD, MS, who also serves as editor-in-chief of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the CDC, will review the latest data about the benefits and safety of vaccines for patients bombarded by information not generated from evidence-based medicine. She will talk about common vaccine myths and misconceptions and help clinicians provide informative responses for patients who express concerns about vaccines. The lecture concludes with a look at vaccines under development for future use during pregnancy.
“Recommendation by a health care provider is a primary motivator for pregnant women to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Rasmussen, who will speak at 3:40 pm in Ballroom ABC.
She will discuss the guiding principles that divide vaccinations into four categories: those contraindicated during pregnancy, those recommended during pregnancy in some circumstances, those with no specific recommendation, and those recommended for all pregnant women. Much of this afternoon’s lecture will focus on the influenza and Tdap vaccines, which are both recommended for all pregnant women.
Dr. Rasmussen’s presentation includes a closer look at the data from recent Tdap studies reviewing effectiveness and safety. The evidence shows that Tdap vaccinations during pregnancy protect infants at the time they’re most vulnerable for pertussis.
Influenza vaccination during pregnancy not only decreases the risk of infection among mothers and infants up to 6 months of age, it’s also associated with a lower rate of certain adverse birth outcomes, such as small size for gestational age infants. In addition, infants of mothers who give birth while severely ill with influenza are more likely to have adverse birth outcomes.
Despite these facts, clinicians still run into barriers with patients who are uninterested, wary, or completely opposed to vaccinations. Dr. Rasmussen will give clinicians strategies to improve immunization rates in their practices. She also will provide specifics about how clinicians can tailor current data and information in ways that answer specific questions from patients about the safety and value of immunizations.