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WHO recommends seasonal influenza vaccination of pregnant women to protect them and their newborn babies from infection, and to reduce the risk of influenza-related complications and hospitalization. Evidence shows that inactivated influenza vaccines are safe for both pregnant mothers and fetuses during all trimesters of pregnancy, and for breastfeeding women. However, maternal influenza vaccination uptake remains low in most of the WHO European Region, despite widespread national policies. http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/influenza/publications/2017/tailoring-immunization-programmes-for-seasonal-influenza-tip-flu-a-guide-for-increasing-pregnant-womens-uptake-of-seasonal-influenza-vaccination-2017
In 2015, a pilot project called “Tailoring Influenza Immunization Programmes (TIP FLU)” was launched in selected clinics in Kaunas (the second largest city in Lithuania) with the aim to increase vaccination uptake among pregnant women. Despite evidence of influenza vaccine effectiveness and safety during pregnancy, uptake of influenza vaccination in Lithuania among pregnant women has been very low (<0.5%) since its introduction in 2010. Following studies on knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding influenza and influenza vaccination among pregnant women and their health care providers (HCPs), different interventions were developed, including educational seminars for HCPs on benefits of maternal influenza vaccination, information materials for pregnant women, and (social) media coverage on the topic. The aim was to increase: 1) demand for influenza vaccination among pregnant women and 2) health care providers recommending maternal influenza vaccination through building a positive environment for maternal influenza vaccination. In 2014/15 influenza vaccination was <0.5%. By 2016/17, following the 2-year pilot in Kaunas, the number of pregnant women who received influenza vaccination increased to 22.8% in one of the pilot clinics in 2016/2017 with an average of 4.5% in the pilot area overall. The success of this project was ensured by the active engagement of a number of local public health institutions, HCPs, and national policy- and decision-makers. The inclusion of maternal influenza vaccination into the newly published national recommendations for antenatal care and on the standard pregnancy card in 2017 is anticipated to further contribute to an increase in influenza vaccination for pregnant women in Lithuania.