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Give pregnant women priority for swine flu vaccine, study urges

Sarah Boseley,
London Guardian [1]
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pregnant women should be prioritised for the flu vaccine as soon as it is available, according to the authors of a study showing they are more at risk of complications and more likely to end up in hospital than other people.

Women expecting a baby should also be given antiviral drugs as soon as they get the flu, says the paper published online today by the Lancet medical journal. Little is known about the possible ill-effects of the drugs on the foetus but scientists say their benefits are likely to be greater than the risks.

The research comes from the US, where six pregnant women died of swine flu complications between 15 April and 18 May. In that month, 34 confirmed or probable cases of swine flu were reported to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 13 states. Eleven of them were admitted to hospital.

The rate of admission to hospital is four times higher than in the general population, say the authors, Dr Denise Jamieson from the CDC’s division of reproductive health in Atlanta and colleagues. That could be because doctors are more nervous about the effects if flu on pregnant women and are more likely to admit them, but the death rate among pregnant women is high.

Full article here [1]