Mums-to-be in Northamptonshire are being urged by health leaders at Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to book a free flu jab to protect themselves and their unborn babies this winter.
Keeping fit and healthy in pregnancy is important for babies growth and development. The immune system is naturally lower during pregnancy, so should expectant mothers catch the flu it can become serious very quickly.
Flu can cause many complications during pregnancy, particularly in the later stages, such as premature births or low birth weights. In some cases it can lead to stillbirth or death in the first week of life.
A review into maternal deaths in 20141 showed that nearly one in 10 deaths of new mothers is caused by flu. More than half of these could have been prevented by the flu vaccination.
Although, maternal deaths are rare in the UK you are at higher risk of complications by infections such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
Dr Darin Seiger, GP Chair of Nene CCG said: I would urge anyone who is pregnant to get the flu vaccination as soon as possible. During pregnancy a woman s immune system is naturally lower to ensure that the pregnancy is successful. As a result, pregnant women are less able to fight off infections and therefore more likely to be seriously ill if they contract the flu virus.
The flu vaccination is the best protection against flu. 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.
Dr Seiger added: Even if you ve had the flu vaccination before it s important to get it again because the type of virus in circulation changes every year, so the vaccine changes too. If you are towards the end of your pregnancy you can also have the whooping cough vaccination at the same time.
Pregnant women are eligible for the flu vaccination free of charge and are urged to speak to their midwife or GP about flu vaccination now. Appointments can be booked through GP practices or by visiting a local pharmacy – no appointment necessary. If you have had your flu vaccination and it has not been done through your GP practice then you should inform your GP so they can ensure your notes are up to date.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/staywell