Mothers-to-be across East Berkshire are being urged to have their flu jab to help protect themselves and their unborn child this winter.
Whether you have recently conceived, are midway through your pregnancy or nearing your due date, you are being encouraged to have the flu vaccination which is available from your GP, maternity service provider or pharmacy, free of charge. Now is the ideal time for you to have it, before the flu virus starts circulating.
Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system and as a result, increases the risk of a mother and unborn baby becoming seriously ill from flu.
Flu is a highly infectious disease. It is caused by viruses that are spread from person to person. The viruses are constantly changing and this is one of the main reasons why pregnant women should be vaccinated annually. The symptoms, that come on very quickly, include fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.
Flu can make otherwise healthy people feel very poorly for up to a fortnight. There is also strong evidence that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu which can harm them and their unborn baby. These risks include bronchitis, pneumonia and an increased risk of having a miscarriage or the baby being born prematurely or with a low birth weight.
The best way to avoid getting the flu is by having the vaccination. Doing so reduces the risk of developing the illness significantly.
Jo Greengrass, Associate Director of Nursing, Quality and Safety for Slough, Bracknell and Ascot and Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) said: “No matter how pregnant you are, whether you are in the early stages, mid or towards the end, it is important that all pregnant women protect themselves and their unborn baby by having the vaccination.
“Flu is a serious risk to both the mother and unborn baby.
“As a mother-to-be, you have an increased risk of developing complications from flu. The vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy and is safe for you both.
“Please speak with your GP/ maternity service provider / local pharmacy as soon as possible.
She added: “Strains of the flu virus change every year, and for that reason it is important to have the vaccine every year. Even if someone thinks they have had the flu already, they should still have the vaccine. There is more than one type of flu virus and it is important to reduce the risk as much as possible.”
Notes to editor:
All pregnant women should have the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their babies. The flu vaccine can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy, from conception onwards.
Pregnant women benefit from the flu vaccine because it will: Reduce their risk of serious complications such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy; reduce the risk of miscarriage or having a baby born too soon or with a low birth weight; help protect their baby who will continue to have some immunity to flu during the first few months of its life; reduce the chance of the mother passing infection to her new baby.
The vaccine is free for pregnant women and is available from their maternity service provider; their GP or local pharmacy.
Many GP practices hold flu vaccination clinics. It is best to find out dates and times by checking on their websites or by calling them directly.
Participating community pharmacies also offer a service for patients who are eligible for a free flu vaccine. If you have the vaccination in a pharmacy they will take your details and let your GP practice know that you have had the vaccination.
To arrange a media interview, please contact Anamika Bansal, CCGs Communications and Engagement Manager, on 01753 636 836.