The aim of this study was to compare the number of inactivated-influenza vaccine-related spontaneous abortion and stillbirth (SB) reports in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database during three consecutive flu seasons beginning 2008/2009 and assess the relative fetal death reports associated with the two-vaccine 2009/2010 season. The VAERS database was searched for reports of fetal demise following administration of the influenza vaccine/vaccines to pregnant women. Utilization of an independent surveillance survey and VAERS, two-source capture-recapture analysis estimated the reporting completeness in the 2009/2010 flu season. Capture-recapture demonstrated that the VAERS database captured about 13.2% of the total 1321 (95% confidence interval (CI): 815-2795) estimated reports, yielding an ascertainment-corrected rate of 590 fetal-loss reports per million pregnant women vaccinated (or 1 per 1695). The unadjusted fetal-loss report rates for the three consecutive influenza seasons beginning 2008/2009 were 6.8 (95% CI: 0.1-13.1), 77.8 (95% CI: 66.3-89.4), and 12.6 (95% CI: 7.2-18.0) cases per million pregnant women vaccinated, respectively. The observed reporting bias was too low to explain the magnitude increase in fetal-demise reporting rates in the VAERS database relative to the reported annual trends. Thus, a synergistic fetal toxicity likely resulted from the administration of both the pandemic (A-H1N1) and seasonal influenza vaccines during the 2009/2010 season.
Keywords: Human toxicology; Thimerosal; immunization; influenza vaccine; spontaneous abortion; stillbirth.