While an anti-vax message warning pregnant women against flu vaccination is spreading around social media channels, health leaders are saying otherwise
An anti-vaccination message claiming that the FluQuadri vaccination is still in trial stages has not been tested on pregnant women is making the rounds on Facebook and other social media platforms, The Courier Mail has highlighted.
The online post argues that it is stated in the vaccine inserts that pregnant women being administered the flu vaccine are taking part in a trial.
It also argues that FluQuadri has not been evaluated for the possible effects on human fertility.
Health professionals are warning people not to listen to the anti-vaccination message.
“Simply put, all the scientific information and evidence points to the total safety and efficacy of influenza vaccination, especially for pregnant women,” says Australian Medical Association (AMA) Vice President Tony Bartone.
“It’s provided free as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP) and there’s a reason for that – because of its importance, because of the significant clinical importance that it poses in terms of prevention of risk of unnecessary morbidity,” he tells AJP.
“It goes a long way to protecting mum and bub.”
Sanofi Pasteur, the manufacturer of FluQuadri, says pregnant women should listen to their healthcare practitioner rather than information online when making a decision about flu vaccination.
“Sanofi supports the statements already made by the Australian Medical Association on this topic in that vaccines are subject to extensive safety testing,” says a Sanofi spokesperson.
“In relation to influenza vaccination in pregnancy, this has been studied in randomised controlled trials in the US and other countries.
“We would encourage women who are pregnant to speak with their healthcare practitioner about necessary immunisations and hear that advice rather than incorrect or unfounded information online.”
PSA National President Shane Jackson agrees that vaccination is imperative for people at high risk of influenza-related complications, which includes pregnant women.
“From our perspective, you look at the people who are at high risk of catching influenza. This includes people with risk factors of chronic disease, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as pregnant women – they’re a high-risk category for influenza and the consequences of influenza,” he tells AJP.
“We encourage people at high risk to be vaccinated for influenza. They might be eligible for a free vaccine under the NIP, but they can also have it in a pharmacy setting as well.
“Let’s try and get everyone vaccinated, even those not eligible for the NIP, as it just lifts that herd immunity… and to not listen to the anti-vaxxers!”
Dr Jackson says the PSA branches are pushing for their states to extend community pharmacy access to the NIP, as is the case in Victoria.
“We are encouraging state departments to follow the lead of Victoria and provide the NIP vaccine to NIP-eligible patients through the pharmacy setting, so these patients have access through multiple sources.
“It’s all about having the availability and access across a variety of settings.”