PUBLIC Health Wales is urging all pregnant women to have their free flu vaccine as research shows they are seven times more likely to die from flu than a woman who is not pregnant.
A woman who catches flu during pregnancy is at higher risk of delivering her baby early and the risk of stillbirth is also increased.
Pregnant women are vulnerable to infection and are not able to fight off viruses such as flu as well as other people.
The flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent flu and offers protection to both the mum-to-be and her unborn baby. The NHS flu vaccine is available free to all pregnant women in Wales at their GP surgery or community pharmacy.
The flu vaccine is safe during all stages of pregnancy, and not only helps protect women against catching flu, but can also help protect their unborn child for up to six months after birth.
Anne McGowan, Nurse Consultant at Public Health Wales who specialises in immunisation during pregnancy, said: “It’s really important for pregnant women to ensure they are protected against flu. Expectant mothers do not have the same ability as other healthy people to fight viruses such as flu, which is an illness that can be devastating for the woman and her unborn baby.
“If a pregnant woman catches flu it can cause severe complications to mother and baby; one quick, simple, vaccination will help to protect her and will also give added protection to her baby during their first months of life.”
Annual flu vaccination is the best protection against catching or spreading flu, a potentially life-threatening infection. Last year, almost three-quarters of pregnant women protected themselves with the flu vaccine. Abigail, 30, from Newport, is four months pregnant with her second child.
She said: “When I think about what could happen to your baby if you get flu and have complications it’s heart-breaking. The fact that you can have the flu jab free at your GP surgery if you’re pregnant makes it an easy decision.
“Why wouldn’t you do everything you can to protect yourself and your unborn baby from something like flu which could potentially kill? My two-year-old daughter will be having her flu nasal spray and I’ll be having the vaccine – it’s just not worth taking the risk NOT to.”
Pregnant women are advised to talk to their midwife, general practice or community pharmacy about getting the vaccination as soon as possible this autumn.