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Flu Jab Protects Against Serious Birth Harms

Kiwi scientists find flu jab protects against stillbirths, premature delivery and low birthweight babies.

A large study of Kiwi women hospitalised with influenza shows those who are vaccinated have a reduced risk of stillbirths, premature delivery and low birthweight babies.

The new study, led by University of Auckland doctoral candidate Jazmin Duque, analysed 16 years of data relating to more than 820,000 pregnant people hospitalised in New Zealand between 2003 and 2018 and recorded as having had influenza. See Journal of Influenza and Other Respiratory Diseases.

Previous studies have found vaccination reduces flu-related illness and hospitalisation in pregnant people.

The main finding that flu vaccination during pregnancy was associated with a lower risk of fetal death (stillbirth), preterm delivery and infants born with low birthweight has been highlighted by the US Centers for Disease Control on 9 November.

The findings come after a New Zealand flu season with lower than optimal vaccination.

“The study should provide reassurance to pregnant women that vaccination is not only safe it is protective for pēpi,” says vaccinologist Associate Professor Helen Petousis-Harris.

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