Pregnant women urged to take up free flu vaccine
Health teams in Shropshire are reminding pregnant women across the county to protect their health this winter by having their free flu vaccine.
All pregnant women are recommended to receive the flu vaccine which can be given at any stage of pregnancy. Immunisation is safe for both mother and baby, and can also protect your baby for the first few months after birth.
Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system and as a result flu can cause serious complications for you and your baby. Vaccination against flu reduces these risks. Serious complications of flu include pneumonia, septic shock (a severe and life-threatening infection of the whole body), meningitis and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
You can get vaccinated at any point during your pregnancy, however fit and healthy you might feel.
Benefits of the flu vaccine
Flu vaccination in pregnancy also means that flu antibodies are transferred through the placenta to the baby. This gives the baby some protection against flu for the first few months of life.
Studies have also shown that women who have been vaccinated against flu are less likely to give birth prematurely, and less likely to have a low-birthweight baby. The vaccine is also inactivated, so cannot cause flu itself.
Councillor Lee Chapman, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and Housing said:
“The flu jab is the safest way to help protect you and your baby against flu, no matter how many months pregnant you are or however fit and healthy you may feel.
“If you are pregnant (or know someone that is) and haven’t yet had your flu jab, please speak to your midwife, GP or pharmacist to arrange an appointment as soon as possible. Not only will you be protecting yourself but the health of your baby.”
Dr Julian Povey, Chair of NHS Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, and Dr Jo Leahy, Chair of NHS Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“We would urge anyone who is pregnant to get the flu vaccination. During pregnancy, a woman’s immune system naturally weakens to ensure that the pregnancy is successful. As a result, pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy, such as bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia.
"It’s safe during any stage in pregnancy, from the first few weeks through to the woman’s due date and doesn’t carry any risks for mother or baby. Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.”
Aside from having your flu vaccine, the best way to prevent the spread of flu is to practice good hand hygiene. Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throw the tissue away and wash your hands. If you think you have flu, stay home and rest until you feel better. Call NHS 111 if you have an underlying health condition or feel really unwell.
The flu jab is the safest way to help protect you and your baby against flu, no matter how many months pregnant you are or however fit and healthy you may feel.
For more information about the flu vaccination visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine.