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Flu jab warning for pregnant women
PREGNANT women are being urged to have the winter flu jab after midwives warned they are five times as likely to be admitted to hospital if they contract the virus.
Figures show that just one in three expectant mothers in St Helens take up the option of the free immunisation.
Neglecting to have the jab can put both mum and baby at risk, warn local health chiefs.
Rose Douglas, head of midwifery at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals, said: “It’s incredibly important for all pregnant women to have their flu vaccination. They are five times more likely to be admitted to hospital and seven times more likely to be admitted into critical care as a result of flu and we are urging all pregnant women to have the flu jab to protect themselves and their baby.
“The vaccination doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu and is completely safe so if you are pregnant, you simply need to contact your doctor, nurse or midwife to arrange the free vaccination.”
Pregnant women are among tens of thousands of people being urged to protect themselves as part of an NHS campaign.
Everyone aged 65 and over and people of any age with health problems are being encouraged to get a free jab. The amount of people in high risk groups having the injection has gone up following campaigns in recent years but there are still those missing out.
Nearly half of under 65s in at risk groups (mainly people with underlying health conditions or weakened immunity) were not immunised last year along with a quarter of pensioners.
Health leaders add that the vaccine every year to fight the latest strains of flu, meaning it is critical patients make new appointments every single year.
Liz Gaulton, St Helens’ director of public health, said: “Although most people recover from flu in a few days or a week, flu can cause serious illness like bronchitis and pneumonia in older people, pregnant women, people of any age with other illnesses (such as chest or heart disease, or diabetes) and newborn babies.
“This can lead to a stay in hospital and be life threatening, especially for the elderly and those in poor health.
“Flu is very unpredictable and has struck Australia and other countries earlier this year, so it’s important that people who need the jab get it as soon as possible.”
This year all pregnant women from 28 weeks are also recommended to receive a vaccine to protect their babies from whooping cough.
FLU jabs are recommended if you are:
- Pregnant or aged 65 years or over Anyone of any age, even if they feel healthy, who has any of the underlying health conditions:
- A heart problem; chest complaint or breathing difficulties; including bronchitis or emphysema; kidney disease; Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment); liver disease; had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack and diabetes.
For a complete list and further information visit www.nhs.co.uk/flu