Pregnant women are at greater risk than other adults of developing serious complications from flu and that can be serious for new-born babies, who can catch the infection from their mothers.
Complications can include pneumonia, hospitalisation, miscarriage, premature birth or delivering a low-weight baby.
Last winter 43.6 per cent of pregnant women in Birmingham and the Black Country had a flu jab – up from 39 per cent the year before.
Now Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, is urging even more pregnant women across the city to book a free jab at the earliest opportunity.
He said: “If you’re pregnant you naturally want to protect your unborn baby from harm and having the flu vaccination is a very simple way to do just that.
“Pregnant women are at increased risk of serious illness if they catch flu and there are also risks to the unborn baby. But the vaccination is quick, safe and, if you’re pregnant, completely free. So please do the sensible thing and book your jab now.
“I know some mums to be are reluctant to have the jab but research shows that it’s safe for mother and baby and can be given at any stage of pregnancy. The earlier you have the vaccine the better as it means you will be protected for the whole winter.”
If you’re pregnant the flu jab is quick, safe and completely free – just ask your midwife or GP and make an appointment. You can have the jab at any stage of pregnancy, and it can also protect your baby for the first few months after birth.
It normally takes 10-14 days to develop protection after the vaccine, and protection against flu lasts all winter. Pregnant women are urged to get a jab as soon as possible to minimise the risk to themselves and their babies.
The flu vaccine only lasts for a year, so if you had a vaccination last year or during a previous pregnancy, you will need another one to stay flu safe. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.
For more information, speak to your GP, midwife or local pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/flu
Notes to editors
There is good evidence that pregnant women are at increased risk from complications if they contract flu.
In addition, there is evidence that having flu during pregnancy may be associated with premature birth and smaller birth size and weight and that flu vaccination may reduce the likelihood of prematurity and smaller infant size at birth associated with an influenza infection during pregnancy.
Furthermore, a number of studies shows that flu vaccination during pregnancy provides passive immunity against flu to infants in the first few months of life.
All pregnant women are recommended to receive the flu vaccine irrespective of their stage of pregnancy.
GPs are being urged to check their patient database throughout the flu season in order to identify women who are not pregnant at the start of the immunisation programme but who become pregnant during the winter.