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Protect yourself and your baby – get the flu jab

Pregnant women are being reminded about the dangers of flu and the need to get protected this winter.

The six clinical commissioning groups that plan local health services across the county have issued the warning as the NHS in England continues to roll out its Flu Safe Campaign.

According to the World Health Organisation, Pregnant women are among the group of people considered to be at higher risk of developing flu.

Getting vaccinated against flu is the best way to protect pregnant women and their baby from the virus, and making sure they stay ‘flu safe’ all winter. The flu jab is completely free for expectant mothers and is quick and safe.

Appointments can be made with midwives or GPs. Women can have the jab at any stage of pregnancy, and this will also protect the baby for the first few months after birth.

Dr Paul Oliver, Clinical Lead for NHS Nottingham North and East Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women and their babies, however, the influenza infection can increase the risk of premature birth. Having the vaccination during pregnancy provides passive immunity against influenza, through the transfer of maternal antibodies across the placenta, to babies in the first few months after they are born.”

It normally takes up to two weeks to develop protection after the vaccine, and the protection it provides against flu will last all winter. Pregnant women are urged to get a jab as soon as possible to minimise the risk to themselves and their babies.

Dr Mark Jefford, clinical lead for Newark and Sherwood CCG added: “The flu vaccine protects you and your baby at the same time from the potentially harmful effects of the virus. I have had the jab to protect my patients and colleagues and it is safe in all stages of pregnancy. My wife is currently pregnant and she has had no hesitation in arranging to be vaccinated to protect both herself and our unborn baby.The vaccine also poses no risk to women who are breastfeeding or to their babies”.

Dr Judy Jones, clinical lead for Mansfield and Ashfield Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The flu vaccine only provides protection for a year, so mothers who had a jab last year, or during a previous pregnancy, will need another one this year to stay safe. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give anyone the flu. We’re working hard with all vulnerable groups and have held special clinics in our practices and the community to get people most at risk protected. It’s important to remember that flu is an unpleasant illness which can result in a stay in hospital. In severe cases flu can be a killer.”

Talk to your GP or midwife as soon as possible if you haven’t had the jab and you are pregnant.

For more information, speak to your GP, midwife or local pharmacist or visit www.nhs.uk/flu .

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