Pregnant women have an increased risk for complications and hospitalizations when infected with the influenza virus in the second or third trimester. Additionally, infants under six months of age are most vulnerable when contracting pertussis. Immunization against influenza andpertussis during pregnancy provides protection for mother and neonate against influenza and for neonates against pertussis pending protection through infant immunization. In Belgium, a gradual increase in pertussis cases over the past decade was observed. This study was undertaken to document vaccination coverage for influenza and pertussis and factors related to vaccination status in pregnant women.
Two hundred and fifty pregnant women completed a questionnaire during their third trimester. Vaccination data were collected and reasons for non-vaccination were noted as well as socio-demographic data which are known to influence vaccination coverage.
A documented vaccination coverage of 42.8% for influenza and 39.2% for pertussis was observed. Taking into account doses which were not documented, but administered according to the expectant mother, coverage for influenza would increase to 62% and for pertussis to 46%. The most important reasons for non-vaccination were the absence of a recommendation by medical staff (9.6%) and delay in vaccination (8.4%). The GP was the most important vaccinator. Pregnant women with a lower education and those with a foreign origin were more vulnerable for non-vaccination.
Incomplete documentation is the most important barrier in determining the vaccination status of pregnant women. Immunization during pregnancy needs further integration through vaccination campaigns aimed at both health care providers and pregnant women.