Pregnant women urged to protect themselves and their unborn babies from flu with free flu jab
Pregnant women in North Somerset are being urged to protect themselves and their unborn babies from flu, by getting a free jab this autumn.
Expectant mothers are at a higher risk of catching seasonal flu, because the immune system is lower when pregnant.
Having the flu jab reduces the risk of developing serious complications after having the flu, such as pneumonia, miscarriage, or the baby being born too soon or with a low birth weight.
The jab also helps protect the baby after it’s born because he or she will continue to have some immunity to flu for the first few months of their life, and this year’s vaccine will also protect against the H1N1 virus.
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Last year only half of the pregnant women in North Somerset were vaccinated against flu, despite the increased risks they face by catching the virus.
The latest data from Public Health England shows that less than eight per cent of mums-to-be in England have had the jab so far this autumn.
That’s why pregnant women are being encouraged to get vaccinated against seasonal flu this year.
The jab is quick and completely free for pregnant women, and available from all local GP surgeries.
It is completely safe for pregnancy and carries no risks for mother or unborn child.
Belinda Cox, the matron for maternity services at Weston General said: "As a mother and a midwife I am aware of the concerns pregnant women have about the effect the flu vaccine could have on their unborn child, as well as the threat of catching the flu themselves.
"I have had the jab to protect the women I work with, and I want to reassure people that the seasonal flu vaccine is safe, and has been given routinely to pregnant women in the US and in other European countries for many years."
Becky Pollard, director of public health at North Somerset Council, said: "Pregnant women are more susceptible to infections, such as coughs, colds and flu, because their immune system is lowered slightly to prevent their bodies from rejecting their unborn baby.
"The flu vaccination will protect pregnant women and their babies from flu and research shows that the jab is safe for mother and baby and can be given at any stage of pregnancy.
"In winter, pregnant women can give their immune systems a helping hand by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, making sure they get plenty of rest, and keeping their stress levels to a minimum."
Pregnant women are urged to get a jab as soon as possible to minimise the risk to themselves and their babies.
It normally takes up to two weeks to develop protection after the vaccine, and protection against flu lasts all winter, so the earlier you have it, the better.
But the jab won’t last longer than a year, so if you had a jab last year or during a previous pregnancy, you will need another one.
The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.
For more information about seasonal flu and the vaccine, visit the NHS choices website at www.nhs.uk/flu, or talk to your GP or midwife.
See more at: http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/News/Pages/Pregnant-women-should-get-the-jab.aspx#sthash.ZLAqO5RQ.dpuf