Over a thousand of pregnant women at risk from deadly flu

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Over 1,700 pregnant women in Wolverhampton left themselves and their unborn child at risk of the flu last year, NHS figures have revealed. NHS Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging all pregnant women to contact their midwife or GP to get their free flu vaccination before the flu virus starts circulating.

Statistics from Public Health England* reveal that 1,769 pregnant women in Wolverhampton did not protect themselves or their unborn baby from the dangers of flu last winter and just 44% of pregnant women took up the offer of a free flu jab last year. The flu vaccine is available from September until around January or February each year. It's free for all pregnant women.

Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to severe complications of flu. During the period 2009 to 2012, one in eleven maternal deaths was due to influenza infection**

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**. In some cases, flu can lead to stillbirth or even death in the first week of life. However, getting a free flu vaccination can help prevent difficulties and keep mother and baby safe.  

Dr Salma Reehana, Chair at NHS Wolverhampton CCG, said:

“It’s important that all pregnant women should have the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their babies. It’s 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.

“During pregnancy a woman’s immune system is naturally lower to ensure that the pregnancy is successful. As a result, pregnant women are less able to fight off infections and therefore more likely to be seriously ill if they contract the flu virus. One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia.

“Women should always get the flu vaccination every time they are pregnant as the flu virus constantly mutates and therefore the strains included in the vaccine are reviewed annually.”

Contact your midwife or GP

Watch this video to understand why it’s so important for pregnant women to have their free flu jab: https://youtu.be/8YYDsmlwUvs