By Dr Miles Langdon
Mothers would do anything to protect their unborn baby, but many pregnant women don’t realise how dangerous flu and 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. You can have the jab at any stage of pregnancy and it can also protect your baby for the first few months after birth.
Flu is a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very suddenly. Healthy individuals usually recover in two to seven days but for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.
The uptake of the vaccination amongst pregnant women in South Lincolnshire in 2013-14 was 44.8 per cent, despite the increased risks they face by catching the virus.
Dr Miles Langdon, chair of NHS South Lincolnshire CCG, 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 population.”
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.
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 the ‘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 – speak to your midwife or GP today to make sure you have a happy and healthy pregnancy by getting the jab and getting flu safe.
For more information, speak to your GP, midwife or local pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/flu