Authors: Eloise Müller-Schulte and Barbara C. Gärtner
Take a look behind the scenes of a recent Future Microbiology editorial, entitled ‘Vaccinations during pregnancy: a call to sting into action’, as we ask the authors about vaccines currently administered during pregnancy, vaccine confidence in pregnant women and the future of this field.
What inspired you to write this piece?
The scientific body of evidence regarding the benefits of vaccinating pregnant women is growing. This holds especially true for influenza and pertussis vaccination during pregnancy. Given the potentially devastating consequences for mothers and their children that derive from vaccine-preventable infections, we aimed at raising greater awareness of this vital topic.
Why are the efficacy and safety of vaccinations during pregnancy under debate?
Safety and efficacy of vaccinations – especially in vulnerable populations such as pregnant women – are often subject of political debate, anti-vaccination campaigns or ‘fake news’. Such debates are mostly grounded on a non-evidence-based argumentation that does not acknowledge sound scientific evidence regarding vaccination of both pregnant and non-pregnant populations.
What vaccinations are recommended and safe for use during pregnancy? Are there any grey areas?
Influenza- and combined tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis-vaccinations (Tdap) are recommended during pregnancy and are considered safe. Next, there is the category of vaccinations not generally recommended during pregnancy but can be administered after an individual risk assessment in pregnant women with additional medical conditions or other special indications. Examples of these ‘grey area’ recommendations include certain inactivated vaccines such as pneumococcal, meningococcal or hepatitis A and B vaccines.
How can we improve vaccine uptake and confidence in pregnant women?
There are certain extrinsic factors such as mandatory vaccinations that can improve general vaccination uptake. However, strengthening the intrinsic motivation of pregnant women to get vaccinated through improved knowledge distribution and information accessibility (e.g., via healthcare professionals or the public health sector) will not only improve vaccination uptake but also long-term acceptance in mothers-to-be.
What work will you do in this field? What do you hope to see?
We hope to improve the knowledge and evidence base regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccinations during pregnancy by distributing scientific insights through health platforms and networks. These insights will include latest scientific findings, a sound evidence base as well as our own research into infectious diseases and the prevention thereof.
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