Vaccine 2012 Nov 29;30(50):7134-40. Epub 2012 Sep 29.
PATH, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.
Immunization of pregnant women against influenza is a promising strategy to protect the mother, fetus, and young infant from influenza-related diseases. The burden of influenza during pregnancy, the vaccine immunogenicity during this period, and the robust influenza vaccine safety database underpin recommendations that all pregnant women receive the vaccine to decrease complications of influenza disease during their pregnancies. Recent data also support maternal immunization for the additional purpose of preventing disease in the infant during the first six months of life. In April 2012, the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization recommended revisions to the WHO position paper on influenza vaccines. For the first time, SAGE recommended pregnant women should be made the highest priority for inactivated seasonal influenza vaccination. However, the variable maternal influenza vaccination coverage in countries with pre-existing maternal influenza vaccine recommendations underscores the need to understand and to address the discrepancy between recommendations and implementation success. We present the outcome of a multi-stakeholder expert consultation on inactivated influenza vaccination in pregnancy. The creation and implementation of vaccine policies and regulations require substantial resources and capacity. As with all public health interventions, the existence of perceived and real risks of vaccination will necessitate effective and transparent risk communication. Potential risk allocation and sharing mechanisms should be addressed by governments, vaccine manufacturers, and other stakeholders. In resource-limited settings, vaccine-related issues concerning supply, formulation, regulation, evidence evaluation, distribution, cost-utility, and post-marketing safety surveillance need to be addressed. Lessons can be learned from the Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination Initiative as well as efforts to increase vaccine coverage among pregnant women during the 2009 influenza pandemic. We conclude with an analysis of data gaps and necessary activities to facilitate implementation of maternal influenza immunization programs in resource-limited settings.