Doctors and midwives are urging pregnant women across the South West to protect themselves and their unborn child from flu, by getting the flu jab this winter.
The flu vaccination is safe during any stage of pregnancy and is available from your GP, maternity service provider or pharmacy.
Emma Gilbert, mother-to-be from Bath said: “I’ve had flu once before and it was really nasty and I was surprised about how unwell I felt. I was told being pregnant you can develop more serious complications with flu so I was advised to get the vaccine.”
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.
All pregnant women are recommended to receive the flu vaccine, irrespective of their stage of pregnancy.
It is very important that pregnant women get the flu jab and protect themselves and their baby as soon as possible. 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.
Flu is highly infectious and 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.
The best way to avoid getting the flu is by having the vaccination. Doing so reduces the risk of developing the illness significantly for both the mother and unborn baby.
Liz Mearns, Medical Director for the South West said: “It’s 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. Pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications from flu.
“The vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy and is safe for mother and baby. So if you are pregnant and haven’t yet had your vaccine, please speak with your GP; midwife or local participating pharmacy as soon as possible.
“The vaccine is free and will offer protection to you and your baby.”
Even if someone thinks they’ve already had the flu, they should still have the vaccine as there is more than one type of flu virus, and it’s important to reduce the risk as much as possible.