Do obstetric healthcare workers know enough about flu vaccine?

January 1, 2010

Many obstetric healthcare workers are not knowledgeable about the safety and importance of influenza vaccination during pregnancy, according to results of a survey reported in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Many obstetric healthcare workers are not knowledgeable about the safety and importance of influenza vaccination during pregnancy, according to results of a survey reported in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Investigators administered a 16-question, multiple-choice survey to 267 obstetric registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, medical assistants, receptionists, and clinical administrators in the emergency department, hospital antepartum unit, and the ob/gyn clinics of 2 hospitals in Providence, Rhode Island, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as well as providers at 9 private ob/gyn practices in the Providence area.

Although more than three-quarters of respondents knew that influenza vaccination is recommended for pregnant women, almost one-third did not agree with the statement that vaccines are a safe and effective way to decrease infections. Only about one-third definitely believed that vaccines are safe in pregnancy. Just over half recognized that pregnant women are at increased risk of complications from influenza, and fewer than half could correctly identify influenza symptoms. Further, only about two-thirds of those surveyed said they would be willing to recommend vaccination to a pregnant woman, if indicated.

Investigators noted that given the correlation between provider knowledge and attitudes about vaccination and patient vaccination decisions, healthcare workers' lack of knowledge may represent a barrier to influenza vaccine coverage of pregnant women.