Over two thousand pregnant women in Dudley left themselves and their unborn child at risk of the flu last year, NHS figures have revealed.
NHS Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is encouraging all pregnant women to get their free flu vaccination before the flu virus starts circulating.
Statistics from Public Health England* reveal that over two thousand pregnant women in Dudley did not protect themselves or their unborn baby from the dangers of flu last winter and just 47.4% of pregnant women took up the offer of a free flu jab.
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 Steve Mann, GP, and Clinical Lead at Dudley CCG, said: “I would urge any lady who is pregnant to have a 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.
Dr Mann, added: “Even if you’ve had the flu vaccination before it’s important to be vaccinated. Because the type of flu virus in circulation changes every year, the vaccine is changed too. If you are towards the end of your pregnancy you can 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