Almost eleven thouand pregnant women in the Birmingham and Solihull area left themselves and their unborn child at risk of the flu last year, NHS figures have revealed. The Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are encouraging all pregnant women to get their free flu vaccination before the flu virus starts circulating.
Statistics from Public Health England* reveal that 10,668 pregnant women in Birmingham and Solihull did not protect themselves or their unborn baby from the dangers of flu last winter, and just 41% of pregnant women took up the offer of a free flu jab last year.
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 even death in the first week of life. However, getting a free flu vaccination can help prevent difficulties and keep mother and baby safe.
Dr Richard Mendelsohn, clinical lead for flu 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.
“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.
“Ask your midwife, GP or pharmacist about your free flu vaccination now. It’s free because you need it.”
Watch this video to understand why it’s so important for pregnant women to have their free flu jab: