Pregnant women urged to get flu jab

Louisa Hyslop.
Louisa Hyslop.

Pregnant women across Ayrshire are being urged to get vaccinated against flu as health professionals outlined the risk of flu for expectant mothers and their babies.

The majority of women will have a healthy pregnancy, however, statistics have shown that pregnant women who contract flu are five times more likely to have a still born baby or to lose the baby within the first week of birth, and although maternal deaths are now very rare, one in 11 women who died shortly after or during childbirth was because of flu2.

The Royal College of Midwives has backed the call for pregnant women to consider getting vaccinated, outlining it is safe to receive at any stage of pregnancy.

Gillian Smith, Director of the Royal College of Midwives Scotland, said: “It is more important than ever for pregnant women to protect themselves against flu, particularly with reports that this year’s flu season could be serious.

“At any stage of pregnancy it is dangerous for the mother and unborn baby to contract flu, it can cause premature labour, miscarriage and even stillbirth as well as make the mother seriously unwell, that’s why we are encouraging them to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible this winter.

“Expectant mothers can receive the vaccine at any stage of their pregnancy; it only takes a few minutes and will help protect them for around a year as well as protecting the baby for around three months after birth.”

Louisa Hyslop, 30, from Prestwick is pregnant and has already received her vaccine at her local Health Centre.

She said: “I caught flu a few years ago when I had first started working at a hair salon in Prestwick. I was very unwell and had to take three weeks off work which wasn’t great as I was self-employed.

“Ever since then I’ve been worried about getting the flu especially working in a busy salon where I come into contact with the public every day.

“I decided I would get my flu vaccine when I fell pregnant. I got it at 16 weeks, it was quick and painless and I was able to return to work straight after the injection. It’s definitely a small price to pay for helping to avoid flu and I would definitely recommend other mums to be to get protected.”

This year, the free flu vaccine will be offered to nearly 2 million people in Scotland. As well as those who are pregnant, those with health conditions which can make them more vulnerable to flu, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma and bronchitis, are being encouraged to make an appointment with their GP practice.

To find out more information about the flu vaccine, contact NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88 or log on to www.immunisationscotland.org.uk/flu

The following groups are eligible for the flu vaccine:

· Those aged 65 years of age and over

· Those with a medical condition which puts them in an ‘at risk’ group such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, heart and lung diseases, or autoimmune disorders

· NHS Scotland workers are encouraged to get the vaccine to help protect themselves, their families, their colleagues, and patients who are potentially vulnerable to flu.

· Unpaid carers

· Pregnant women (including those with at risk conditions)

· Children aged 2-11 years old. 2-5 year olds and not yet in school will be vaccinated at their GP practice. 5-11 year olds will be vaccinated at school during the autumn term