Racial disparities in influenza immunization during pregnancy in the United States: A narrative review of the evidence for disparities and potential interventions

Vaccine. 2021 Aug 16;39(35):4938-4948. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.07.028. Epub 2021 Jul 24.


Objective: The objectives of this review were to summarize existing data on racial disparities in maternal immunization for influenza in the U.S. and to review the literature on interventions to improve the uptake of the influenza vaccine among Black pregnant women.

Data sources: U.S. survey data on maternal influenza immunization by racial and ethnic group were summarized in narrative form. To review intervention studies, PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library databases were searched for English language articles published 2017 to 2021, in addition to studies identified by a previous systematic review.

Study eligibility criteria: Peer-reviewed studies conducted in the U.S. and reporting interventions designed to increase the uptake of the influenza vaccine in pregnancy with study populations including at least 20% of participants identifying as Black were included.

Study appraisal and synthesis methods: Studies were grouped and reviewed in a narrative manner according to whether they were conducted in predominantly Black populations or in more racially diverse populations, and whether they tested multicomponent or single-component interventions.

Results: A decade of survey data show that Black women in the U.S. consistently have the lowest rate of influenza immunization in pregnancy. Black women report a lower rate of being recommended or offered the vaccine, and provider recommendation is associated with greater vaccine uptake. Intervention studies to increase influenza immunization among Black pregnant women have reported mixed results. Successful interventions include multicomponent practice-based interventions, group prenatal care, and culturally competent patient educational messages.

Conclusions: Racial disparities in maternal uptake of the influenza vaccine are long-standing, but not intractable. More research is needed to test interventions to address this disparity, with a focus on increasing provider recommendation and offer of the vaccine, addressing patients' concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy, improving providers' cultural competence, and building trust between providers and patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines*
  • Influenza, Human* / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women
  • Racial Groups
  • United States
  • Vaccination


  • Influenza Vaccines