Pregnant women urged to get the flu jab

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Pregnant women are being urged to get the flu jab to protect themselves and their unborn child from the dangerous and debilitating virus.

County health bosses have said getting vaccinated against flu is the best way to protect yourself and your baby from the virus, and to 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.

Figures show that only 27.4 per cent of pregnant women in England received the seasonal flu vaccine during the 2011/12 flu season.

Lesley-Anne Hamilton, associate director children and maternity for the NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group, 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.

“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.

“The jab can be given at any stage of pregnancy however the earlier you have the vaccine the better as it means you will be protected for the whole winter.

“Remember that flu can lay you low for a couple of weeks and make it really difficult to look after your kids or go to work – when it’s so easy to avoid with a quick jab it’s the last thing you need when you’re pregnant.”

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 click here.