Flu vaccine in pregnant women found to boost infant’s protection

Recent studies have found that a number of pregnant women who receive a vaccine against a very rare type of the influenza virus have been able to shield their infants from the disease. The…

Flu vaccine in pregnant women found to boost infant’s protection

Recent studies have found that a number of pregnant women who receive a vaccine against a very rare type of the influenza virus have been able to shield their infants from the disease. The researchers believe the vaccination to be too good to be true, but at least one other company has started a trial of a similar vaccine in pregnant women in the hopes that it can offer even more protection against the flu.

Researchers in Denmark and the United States who examined data from 51 trials completed since 2005 found that a vaccine containing the adjuvant indinavir was able to boost the protection levels of babies born to women who received the vaccine during their pregnancy. When compared to mothers who received the vaccine for free during prenatal care, in the trials infants born to moms who received the jab still were two-thirds less likely to be infected with lab-grown influenza virus, commonly known as Omicron, compared to mothers who did not receive the vaccine, and no inoculation worked to fully protect the infants. About one in three infants would be infected with Omicron if given the vaccine during their mother’s pregnancy, an interesting statistic for parents, researchers say.

There is already a worldwide shortage of the vaccine to protect against the flu, and the risk that babies could be at risk if pregnant women don’t receive their vaccine is something that could be of concern if further studies confirm the findings.

But the study is only part of the story, because the vaccine’s effectiveness comes from two factors: dosage and efficacy in protecting babies from a particular strain of flu, or what is known as “herd immunity.” When a vaccine contains multiple strains, like is the case with the Philadelphia and Yale oral FluMist vaccine, the vaccine’s effect against the particular strain is weakened, and researchers are hoping that the new trial, which is still awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration, could help establish herd immunity as a feature of its own.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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