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Texts help monitor safety of influenza vaccine in pregnant women

Pregnant women are at increased risk of serious influenza-related complications, yet nearly 75% go unvaccinated each year in Western Australia.1 Many women cite safety concerns as their reason for non-vaccination.1 In 2013, the Western Australia Department of Health implemented FASTMum (Follow-up and Active Surveillance of Trivalent influenza vaccine in Mums), an active surveillance system which uses text messaging to monitor post-vaccination reactions to the influenza vaccine.

Between March and July 2013, 2,547 women who received an influenza vaccination were sent a text message asking if they had experienced a reaction to the vaccine. Of these, 217 (8.7%) replied “yes” to the text message, indicating they had experienced a post-vaccination reaction. These women were followed up by telephone to obtain information about their reaction. The most common reaction reported was a minor local reaction, such as swelling, redness, or pain at the injection site with 3.5% of women reporting an injection site reaction; 2.7% of women reported a headache, 2.3% nasal congestion, 2.1% fatigue, and 2.0% a fever (Figure 1). Less than 1% of women reported a rash, vomiting, rigors, myalgia, arthralgia, light-headedness, dizziness, or malaise. No serious vaccine-related reactions were reported.

By using mobile phone technology to monitor vaccine safety, the Western Australia Department of Health was also able to monitor the safety of influenza vaccination in pregnant women in near real time. Overall, few pregnant women experienced a reaction to the influenza vaccine and no serious reactions were recorded. These results corroborate previous reports and lend further support to the safety of influenza vaccination in pregnant women.

Figure 1 – Percentage of women reporting a reaction following influenza immunisation, 2013


  1. Taksdal SE, Mak DB, Joyce S, et al. Predictors of uptake of influenza vaccination in pregnant women in Western Australia. Aust Fam Physician 2013, 42(8), 582–6.

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