The flu vaccine has been making headlines lately, most recently because a new study suggests that the vaccine is only about 59 percent effective at preventing the flu in adults. Despite the vaccine's perceived shortcomings, health experts still urge people to get themselves vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report on Friday that indicated that around 110 million flu vaccines were administered nationwide in the month of September and that about 63.5 percent of healthcare workers had received the vaccine. Last year, only 43 percent of the adult population got a shot. The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older should get vaccinated every year, as more than 50,000 people die of the flu annually. Additionally, it hospitalizes 200,000 yearly, and last year, 114 children died of the flu.
One group that is receiving more flu shots? Pregnant women. According to WebMD, pregnant women are more likely to receive the flu shot now than they were a few years ago. Historically, the percentage of pregnant women receiving the vaccine has hovered around 15 percent, researchers say. Past research indicates that safety has been the top reason why pregnant women choose not to vaccinate themselves during pregnancy.
A recently released, large study compared medical records of 243 women who had miscarriages, and 243 women who did not, and found that there is no association between getting the flu vaccine during the first trimester and miscarriage. The study found that 38 women (16 percent) who miscarried had received the flu vaccine, compared to 31 women in the study who miscarried (11 percent), but did not receive the flu vaccine. Researchers say that this difference is so small, it could be due to chance.
"Although there was never any hard evidence that influenza vaccine can cause pregnancy loss, there have been fears about it," study researcher Stephanie A. Irving, MS, an epidemiologist at Marshfield, told WebMD.