Pregnant women in Norfolk and Waveney are being urged to have a free flu jab to protect themselves and their babies.
The five Clinical Commissioning Groups in Norfolk and Waveney are encouraging all pregnant women to have the vaccine as soon as possible so they are protected from the flu virus this winter.
Uma Balasubramaniam, a GP on NHS West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Governing Body and its Gynaecology Lead, said: “Pregnant women are at risk of severe illness from flu at any stage of pregnancy so it is important to have the flu vaccine as soon as possible. Pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
“One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia.
“Studies have shown that it is safe to have the flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date. Women who have the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.
“We are urging all pregnant women to have the vaccine as soon as possible so they are protected from flu viruses circulating this winter.”
A spokesman for the Royal College of Midwives added: “It is vital that more pregnant women come forward for the vaccine.
“During pregnancy, a woman’s immune system naturally weakens to ensure that the pregnancy is successful and leaves her less able to fight off infections. That means if a woman catches the flu while pregnant she has a higher chance of getting bronchitis or pneumonia.”
Pregnant women with flu are at a greater risk of having a miscarriage, giving birth early or having a baby with a low birth weight. Between 2009 and 2012, 36 pregnant women died from flu in the UK and Ireland, accounting for one in 11 of all maternal deaths during this period.
If you are expecting a baby please ask your midwife or GP about the vaccine. You can also read more here www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/flu-jab-vaccine-pregnant/
The following groups are eligible for the free flu vaccine in 2018/19:
• all children aged two to nine
• those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
• pregnant women
• those aged 65 years and over
• those in long-stay residential care homes
The vaccination is also recommended for frontline health and social care workers.