Get the flu jab to protect you and your baby, mums urged

ou would do anything to protect your unborn baby, but many pregnant women don’t realise how dangerous and debilitating flu can be.

Getting vaccinated against flu is the best way to protect yourself and your baby from the virus, and make sure you stay flu safe all winter. If you’re pregnant the flu jab is quick, safe and completely free – just ask your midwife, practice nurse or GP and make an appointment. You can have the jab at any stage of pregnancy, and it can also protect your baby for four to six months after birth.

Last year, only 34% of pregnant women in the NHS Nottinghamshire County area and 23% in the NHS Nottingham City area were vaccinated against flu, despite the increased risks they face by catching the virus.

Penny Spring, Public Health Consultant at NHS Nottinghamshire County, said: “Pregnant women are at increased risk of serious illness if they catch flu. In fact, studies have shown that pregnant women with some strains of flu are four times more likely to develop serious illness and four to five times more likely to be admitted to hospital than the general population1”.

It normally takes up to two weeks to develop protection after the vaccine, and protection against flu lasts all winter. Pregnant women are urged to get a jab as soon as possible to minimise the risk to themselves and their babies.

Penny Spring added, “Research shows that the jab is safe for mother and baby and can be given at any stage of pregnancy. The earlier you have the vaccine the better, as it means you will be protected for the whole winter. Remember that flu can lay you low for a couple of weeks and make it really difficult to look after your kids or go to work. Flu is the last thing you need when you’re pregnant, and it’s so easy to avoid with a quick jab.”

The flu vaccine only lasts for a year, so if you had a jab last year or during a previous pregnancy, you will need another one to stay flu safe. The jab doesn’t contain a live virus so it cannot give you the flu.

Flu is an unpleasant illness which can result in a stay in hospital. In severe cases flu can be a killer. Don’t take the risk - make sure you have a happy and healthy pregnancy by getting the jab and getting flu safe.

For more information, speak to your midwife, practice nurse, GP or local pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/flu.