Could flu shots lead to a miscarriage? Here's what you need to know

Experts question flu shots

STATEWIDE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A new study shows there seems to be a connection between one particular flu vaccine and an early miscarriage -- however, experts say it's too soon to officially link the two.

The study, which was paid for by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at 485 pregnant women who miscarried. The study found 17 of those women had back-to-back annual flu shots, which included protection against swine flu. This leaves many woman wondering, 'should I get my flu shot?' -- experts say, yes.

"I would not hesitate to get vaccinated now if I were pregnant." Dr. Dora Mills said. Mills is the Vice President of clinical affairs at the University of New England and the former director of Maine's CDC. She says this study is not meant to scare women but is the department being transparent. 

"I think the CDC did a good job at being proactive at just saying -- look this is what our data picked up," Mills said. "It's really very early, it doesn't show anything definitive and we really don't even know what to make of it."

Mills recommends that every woman who is pregnant should be vaccinated in order to protect themselves and their unborn child against influenza. Dr. Garrick Slate of Eastern Maine Medical Center agrees. Slate is an OB GYN and sees pregnant woman on a daily basis. "The pregnant population is an at risk population that will really benefit from the flu vaccine." Slate said. 

He and other experts feel the data should be taken as a safety signal -- something that will lead to a bigger and stronger study. "Medicine and science evolve by doing research, acting on research findings and then doing the next study to see if something else links up." Slate said. He says there was a similar study done by the same group of people in the past which found no connection.

Experts say the biggest take away from this is that public health agencies are watching out for vaccine safety. However, there are some groups in Maine that disagree with the experts. Members of the Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice feel it is irresponsible to continue vaccinating mothers after the release of this information. A statement from the Coalition read in part:

"This lack of seriousness in vaccine safety oversight is likely leading to the avoidable injury and premature death of some Mainers, and to the growing and well earned distrust in the National Immunization Program."

Until research says otherwise, experts -- including Slate and Mills, will continue to advocate for flu shots during pregnancy. "The minute something appears to link up, there will be statements, things will turn, things will be stopped," Slate said. "But at this point its not a cause for alarm."

 

 

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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