Nari Desk: Public Health England (PHE) is encouraging pregnant women to have the free flu vaccine this winter.
Research shows that around 4 in 10 (42%) of pregnant women got their jab last year. Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system, and as a result it can cause serious complications for both mother and her unborn baby. Despite this, a fifth of pregnant women (19%) who didn’t get vaccinated said they didn’t get the free flu jab because they thought, mistakenly, it might harm their baby.
The flu vaccine helps to protect pregnant women and their unborn children. It can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy. The vaccine will:
reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy
reduce the risk of miscarriage or having a baby born too soon or with a low birth weight
help protect their unborn child who after birth will continue to have some immunity to flu during the first few months of its life
reduce the chance of the mother passing infection to her new baby.
The free vaccine is also offered to other groups at particular risk of infection and complications, anyone aged 65 and over; residents of long-stay care homes; and carers. Children aged 2, 3 and 4 and in school years 1, 2 and 3 are also being offered a free flu vaccination.
Dr Sara lAnand, Wellington Health Centre, said:
“Let’s be clear on the facts, flu can cause serious complications for pregnant women and their babies. The safest way to help protect them both is the flu vaccine.
“I fully support this campaign and would encourage all South Asian pregnant women and parents with children aged 2 – 7 to get the flu vaccine. This will help protect them and reduce the risk of spreading the flu to others.”
Mrs Neeshat Wadud, had the flu vaccination whilst she was pregnant, said:
“Being pregnant is a wonderful time, but it can also be worrying. Whilst trying to enjoy my pregnancy, I had niggling concerns in the back of my head about all the things that might go wrong so when I was offered the flu jab I did not hesitate to have it. It was a relief to know that I could protect myself and my unborn baby from the often dangerous symptoms that flu can cause in pregnancy.”
Visit www.nhs.uk/staywellfor more details on how to help you and your family to stay well this winter.