Compared with older women and adult men, the poll found higher percentages of women ages 18 to 49 doubting that vaccination against these viruses during pregnancy is safe.
The survey of 1,600 U.S. adults was conducted in January. Results were reported April 10 in the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s second Annenberg Science and Public Health Knowledge Monitor.
“Because the COVID and flu vaccines help protect both those who are pregnant and their infants, dispatching misconceptions about them should be a public health priority,” said report co-author Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
“That women of childbearing age are showing doubt in the safety of current, authorized vaccines is worrisome," she said in a university news release.
While about 53% of women of childbearing age know that the seasonal flu vaccine “is safe for pregnant women,” about 17% incorrectly think that is false.
Those with doubts about its safety were smaller in women 50 and up, at 4%. About 9% of men also did not consider it safe.
The numbers were even more pronounced for the COVID vaccine.
An earlier survey, conducted in August 2022, found that 42% of women of childbearing age know that COVID vaccination is safe and effective during pregnancy, while 31% incorrectly think it is false to say the vaccine during pregnancy is safe and effective. That doubt was felt by a smaller number of older women, 15%, and men, 19%.
The latest survey also found that about 76% of women of childbearing age who were vaccinated for the flu thought the vaccine was safe for pregnant women, compared to 40% of women who did not have a flu shot.
About 59% of women who had a primary series of COVID vaccine shots thought it was safe and effective during pregnancy, compared to only 8% of those who had not been vaccinated.
Many people also expressed uncertainty about safety. This included 39% of women 50 and older who were not sure if the COVID vaccine was safe during pregnancy and 51% of women in that age category who were not sure if the flu vaccine was safe.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends both the flu shot and COVID vaccine for pregnant women.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on pregnancy and vaccination.
SOURCE: University of Pennsylvania, news release, April 11, 2023