Flu Shots in Pregnancy: What's Your Sell?

September 13, 2014

It is now recommended that all adults, including pregnant women, get a flu shot. So how do you-or don't you-convince your more skeptical patients?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently updated their recommendations for influenza vaccinations during pregnancy. The organization, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, now recommends that all adults, including pregnant women, receive the flu shot.

A summary of ACOG's recommendations from the updated Committee Opinion, is this:

"It is particularly important that women who are or will be pregnant during influenza season receive an inactivated influenza vaccine as soon as it is available. It is critically important that all obstetrician–gynecologists and all providers of obstetric care advocate for influenza vaccination, provide the influenza vaccine to their pregnant patients, and receive the influenza vaccine themselves every season. It is imperative that obstetrician–gynecologists, other health care providers, health care organizations, and public health officials continue efforts to improve the rate of influenza vaccination among pregnant women."

However, convincing patients who don't want the shot to get one may be an uphill battle. A quick Google search using "flu shot in pregnancy" and "flu shot safety" as my search parameters led me to the following headlines:

- "The Deadly Truth About Flu Vaccines and Pregnancy."

- "Will You Line Up for This Year’s Lethal Injection?"

- "A Shot Never Worth Taking."

- "Warning: Your Flu Shot Contains a Dangerous Neurotoxin."

- "Thimerosol-Containing Flu Vaccine Given During Pregnancy Causes Tics, CDC Scientist Says."

Any patient who Googles who seeks information about the flu shot probably will stumble across these headlines (and content) as well.

Considering this mixed information, how will you advocate for the flu shot in patients who are uncertain about the risks? And what will you say to patients who bring up concerns about adverse effects related to the shot or who are anti-vaccine, especially when pushing too hard for the shot could turn some patients off and lead them to look for another doctor.

All things considered, how hard will you advocate for the shot, and what will be your sell to your more hesitant or skeptical patients who need convincing?

(As always, we welcome your thoughts in the comment section below.)