Flu can cause 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 your free flu vaccination can help prevent difficulties and keep you and your baby safe.
Keeping fit and healthy in pregnancy is important for your baby’s growth and development.
Your immune system whilst you are pregnant is naturally lower and if you catch the flu virus it can become serious very quickly; a review into maternal deaths has shown that nearly one in ten deaths of new mothers was caused by flu.
More than half of these could have been prevented by the flu vaccination. Although maternal deaths are rare in the UK, you are at higher risk of complications by infections, such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
Therefore, pregnant ladies are urged to get the flu vaccination as soon as possible. It is the best protection against flu, it is 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.
Even if you’ve had the flu vaccination before it’s important to get it again because the type of flu virus in circulation changes every year, so the vaccine changes too. If you are towards the end of your pregnancy you can also have the whooping cough vaccination at the same time. Ask your midwife, GP or pharmacist about your free flu vaccination now. It’s free because you need it.
• For more information visit www.nhs.uk/staywell