Health official: ‘If we’re going to protect these babies, we need more moms to be immunized themselves’

From The White House physician:

The month of November is celebrated as a time of getting together with family, friends and loved ones. The folks at the National Institutes of Health consider that a good thing, especially for the millions of people who will be exposed to the influenza virus and potentially get sick from that. The only problem is that it’s also considered a good time for a vaccine campaign.

Usually, that’s not a problem, because we don’t vaccinate the Thanksgiving holiday crowd. So it shouldn’t be a problem for the rest of the year, either. But with the flu season starting to ramp up, the NIH wants to alert all the mothers out there to get their babies vaccinated.

So far, we’ve been doing some case control studies to make sure that there’s no halo effect. The reason is that there are a lot of people who come into the hospital with influenza, but they all have a mother or a father who’s immunized. And so we’re screening out just the immunized people from the unvaccinated.

The other thing we’re doing is looking at moms with influenza—we only know a part of their story, but we know there are some who don’t have influenza. They just decide not to have the shots. And so we’re trying to show what the mortality is. And we are seeing a number of mothers with influenza without vaccinating their children. The vaccination rate amongst those mothers is lower than the vaccination rate amongst those who did vaccinate their children. So we’re trying to find out why that is.

Those mothers are willing to vaccinate their kids, but they’re not willing to vaccinate their kids themselves. So we’re trying to get the message out so that more moms would get immunized themselves, because if we’re going to protect these babies, we need their mother to be immunized.

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