United States

CDC, AWHONN and CSL Biotherapies Partner to Educate Healthcare Providers on the Impact of Novel H1N1 Pandemic on Influenza Management in Pregnant Women

Forum Underscored the Importance of Novel H1N1 and Seasonal Flu Prevention and Treatment In High-Risk, Priority Audience

San Diego, CA — 07/09/2009

To address public health concerns about the novel influenza A pandemic virus – H1N1 -- and the implications of it on the upcoming influenza (flu) season, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) hosted a late-breaking educational session for healthcare providers who are on the front-lines of care for pregnant women at the AWHONN 2009 annual convention. Funded by CSL Biotherapies, "A Tale of Two Flus: A Focus on Seasonal and Novel H1N1 During Pregnancy" featured speakers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and provided valuable insights and recommendations in the months leading up to the Fall flu season.

"We know from historical records that pregnant women experienced excess deaths in the 1918 and 1957 pandemics, and we also know that seasonal influenza disproportionately affects pregnant women," said Andrew Kroger, MD, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Vaccination with seasonal inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) is recommended for all women who will be pregnant during the influenza season, regardless of gestational age."

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College of Obstetrics (ACOG) and Gynecology recommend that women who are pregnant during flu season get a flu shot because of the risks associated with influenza in this patient population. Further, a 2008 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine also noted that flu immunization during pregnancy is beneficial to newborns as it reduces the risk of them developing potentially life-threatening complications due to influenza infection.

According to the CDC, seasonal influenza vaccination is unlikely to confer protection against novel H1N1 flu, that's why it is vitally important for pregnant women to get seasonal flu vaccine to prevent co-infection.

The AWHONN late-breaker event provided insightful information on projections for the Fall 2009 flu season and the public health implications of a potential pandemic from a variety of perspectives including:

  • Leading Health Authorities: Andrew Kroger, MD, MPH and Jennifer Williams, MSN, MPH, FNP-BC of the Centers for Disease Control
  • Physicians Specializing in Women's Health: Neil Silverman, MD, Center for Fetal Medicine and Women's Ultrasound; clinical professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Healthcare Providers Including Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and Nurse-Midwives: Catherine Ruhl, CNM, MS, associate director of women's health programs at AWHONN; Robbie Prepas, CNM, MN, JD, chairperson, Disaster Preparedness Committee, American College of Nurse Midwives

"Seasonal influenza is a serious health concern for pregnant women and this year, the emergence of the H1N1 virus heightens the potential for complications in women who are expecting," said Neil Silverman, MD, clinical professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles. "Especially now, immunization against seasonal flu with trivalent inactivated vaccine is the best approach for pregnant women as it will provide the best protection against influenza for both mothers and infants."

"The late breaking session reinforced the roles education and resources play in helping doctors and nurses provide effective influenza protection and management for pregnant women," said Catherine Ruhl, CNM, MS, associate director of women's health programs at AWHONN. "That's why AWHONN has partnered with fellow health organizations and industry on programs, such as 'Flu-Free and a Mom-to-Be,' to help healthcare practitioners mobilize their pregnant patients to get a flu shot."

The 'Flu-Free and A Mom-to-Be: Protect Yourself, Protect Your Baby -- Get a Flu Shot!' campaign was launched by AWHONN and the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC) and funded by an educational grant from CSL Biotherapies, one of the world's leading providers of flu vaccine. The campaign was designed to address the lack of awareness and myths about flu vaccination during pregnancy among expectant mothers. The program, which was recognized by the National Influenza Vaccine Summit for Excellence in Immunization, provided healthcare professions with educational materials, such as a flu tip card, and posters to facilitate discussions with pregnant women about vaccination. To learn more about 'Flu-Free and a Mom-to-Be' visit http://jama.ama-assn.org/ .

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is developing several resources to mount a rapid response to H1N1 including a communications toolkit to help health department and clinicians disseminate messages to pregnant women.

About Influenza
According to the CDC, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times, can lead to death. Every year in the United States, five to 20 percent of the population gets the flu. Additionally, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and about 36,000 people die from flu. Patient groups, such as the elderly, young children, and people with underlying health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is to get immunized against the virus each year.

About Association of Women's Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN)
The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) is the foremost nursing authority that advances the health care of women and newborns through advocacy, research and the creation of high quality, evidence-based standards of care. AWHONN's 22,000 members worldwide are clinicians, educators and executives who serve as patient care advocates focusing on the needs of women and infants. A leader in professional development, AWHONN is the first and only association to be awarded the designation Premier Provider by the American Nurses Credentialing Center for innovation and excellence in Continuing Nursing Education. AWHONN was founded in 1969 as the Nurses Association of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The association became a separate nonprofit organization called the Association of Women's Health and Neonatal Nurses in 1993.

About CSL Biotherapies
The United States headquarters of CSL Biotherapies are located in King of Prussia, PA. Its parent company, CSL Limited, in Melbourne, Australia, has made a $60 million (U.S.D.) investment in plant and equipment to double the manufacturing capacity of the company's Melbourne facility to 40 million doses per season; it is now one of the world's largest influenza vaccine facilities for global markets. CSL Biotherapies, which shares its United States headquarters with its sister company, CSL Behring, is commercializing influenza vaccine products globally.

The CSL Group, which includes CSL Biotherapies, CSL Research & Development, CSL Bioplasma, and CSL Behring, has more than 10,000 employees and operates in 27 countries worldwide. For more information, visit us at www.cslbiotherapies-us.com, or call 1-888-435-8633.

Media Contacts:

Sheila A. Burke
Director, Public Relations & Communications
Worldwide Commercial Operations
CSL Biotherapies

Abenaa (Abby) Hayes
Weber Shandwick

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