DOCTOR CALLING: By Dr Kevin Hill
Keeping fit and healthy in pregnancy is important for your baby’s growth and development. The immune system is naturally lower during pregnancy, so if you were to catch the flu it could become serious very quickly. Therefore, X Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is encouraging all pregnant women to get a free flu vaccination this winter.
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 ten 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 Kevin Hill, Chair of South Lincolnshire CCG said: “I would urge any lady 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 is recommended during any stage in pregnancy, from the first few weeks through to the woman’s due date. 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 Hill added: “Even if you have had the flu vaccination in previous years it is 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, it is recommended you also have the whooping cough vaccination at the same time.”
If you are pregnant, you are eligible for the flu vaccination free of charge. It’s free because you need it. Ask your midwife or GP about flu vaccination now. You can book an appointment at your GP practice or visit your local pharmacy - no appointment necessary.
For more information visit: www.nhs.uk/staywell