Mothers-to-be urged to take flu vaccination

PREGNANT women are being urged to take their flu vaccination to protect their unborn child.

During the 2011/12 flu season approximately 2,500 pregnant women registered with a GP practice in Calderdale. Figures showed that just 27 per cent of mums-to-be in had the flu jab.

Dr Graham Wardman, director of public health for Calderdale NHS, said: “Flu can cause serious illness in pregnant women and in the most severe cases can put the lives of expectant mums and their unborn babies at risk. This is because the woman’s body and immune system is adapting to accommodate the growing baby and is therefore less able to fight off the flu virus,” he said.

Pregnant women who catch flu are at increased risk of serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia. And by not having the vaccine, mothers could put the baby at risk of premature or still birth.

“When you are pregnant with your child you want to do what is right for your baby and some mothers-to-be worry about the vaccine.

“It is safe for mother and baby and can be given at any stage of pregnancy. In fact, having a flu jab while pregnant will also automatically protect your baby against this dangerous illness because the antibodies you develop are passed to your baby and will last during the first few months of your baby’s life,” added Dr Wardman.

“In addition, many pregnant mothers already have children at home and with a family to look after cannot afford to fall ill. So getting the jab not only protects the mother and unborn baby, but also their loved ones too.”

This year, pregnant women are also being urged to get the whooping cough vaccination to give their baby the best protection against whooping cough, following a national outbreak of the disease, as very young babies are at the greatest risk of serious complications.

Women over 28 weeks pregnant can ask their midwife or GP practice about a flu jab or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.