Influenza infection in pregnancy can have adverse impacts on maternal, fetal, and infant outcomes. Influenza vaccination in pregnancy is an appealing strategy to protect pregnant women and their infants. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting three large, randomized trials in Nepal, Mali, and South Africa evaluating the efficacy and safety of maternal immunization to prevent influenza disease in pregnant women and their infants <6 months of age. Results from these individual studies are expected in 2014 and 2015. While the results from the three maternal immunization trials are likely to strengthen the evidence base regarding the impact of influenza immunization in pregnancy, expectations for these results should be realistic. For example, evidence from previous influenza vaccine studies - conducted in general, non-pregnant populations - suggests substantial geographic and year-to-year variability in influenza incidence and vaccine efficacy/effectiveness. Since the evidence generated from the three maternal influenza immunization trials will be complementary, in this paper we present a side-by-side description of the three studies as well as the similarities and differences between these trials in terms of study location, design, outcome evaluation, and laboratory and epidemiological methods. We also describe the likely remaining knowledge gap after the results from these trials become available along with a description of the analyses that will be conducted when the results from these individual data are pooled. Moreover, we highlight that additional research on logistics of seasonal influenza vaccine supply, surveillance and strain matching, and optimal delivery strategies for pregnant women will be important for informing global policy related to maternal influenza immunization.
Keywords: Influenza; Mali; Maternal immunization; Nepal; Pooled analyses; South Africa.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.