The government has warned that there could be a significant flu surge this winter coinciding with continuing or rising COVID-19 cases, so pregnant women in Devon are being urged to have the flu vaccine now to protect themselves and their unborn baby from the potentially deadly illness.
NHS advice states that during pregnancy, a mother’s immune system is weakened, meaning they’re less able to fight off infections, more likely to be admitted to hospital with flu and more at risk of complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
Clara Southby, Interim Maternity Matron for Community and Outpatients, at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust said:
“Having flu when pregnant can put you and your baby at a greater risk of severe complications, so we would encourage anyone who is pregnant to have the seasonal flu vaccination as soon as possible.
“We’re likely to have lower immunity this year because of lockdowns during the flu season last winter. It’s more important than ever to have the vaccine to protect you and your baby. The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn and it is safe to have at any stage in pregnancy.”
The flu vaccination is seasonal and based on the flu strains that are currently circulating. This means that pregnant women need to have the vaccination this autumn, even if they had it last year. It’s not a live vaccine, which means it can’t give you flu and it is safe to have both during pregnancy and if you are breastfeeding.
You can have the jab when you come to the Maternity Department for your scan or clinic appointment. Alternatively, you can book an appointment via your pharmacy or your GP. Any adult who is eligible can find a nearby pharmacy offering the NHS flu vaccine online.