Pregnant women across Sefton are being urged to make sure they get the flu jab this winter by Sefton Council, NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG.
While you are pregnant you are eligible for the flu vaccination free of charge at any point during your pregnancy. Getting the flu vaccine reduces the risk of complications and potential harmful consequences for both you and your baby if you were to catch the flu, such as premature birth, pneumonia and reduces the risk of your baby getting flu in the first few months of their life.
The flu vaccination is one of the most effective ways to reduce harm from flu as it reduces risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and even death among those who are most at risk – including expectant mothers.
Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system and as a result mothers may be less able to fight off infections, increasing the risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of flu.
Dolly Loftus, a Sefton resident, said: “This is my first pregnancy and I think it’s so important to be vaccinated as it protects both me and my baby. It’s great that the NHS is offering the jab for free to pregnant women like me and that the vaccine is safe during any stage of pregnancy.”
Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member Health and Wellbeing, said: “Flu is a highly contagious illness that spreads rapidly. It can cause serious complications for at risk groups, such as expectant mothers and people with long term health conditions.
“Despite us having a relatively mild autumn so far, the flu jab may be the last thing on people’s minds, especially expectant mums.
“However, for many people flu is an unpleasant illness but for pregnant women it is extremely dangerous and can be lethal. My advice for anyone eligible for the free flu vaccination is to get it now before flu starts to circulate in the Sefton community.”
Free flu vaccinations are being offered to all pregnant women, all children aged 2 to 4, residents of all ages with a long-term health condition and everyone aged 65 and over. People who are eligible can get vaccinated at their local GP practice or participating pharmacies.
Dr Wendy Hewitt, clinical lead for children and maternity at NHS South Sefton CCG and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, added: “You can have the flu vaccine at any point in your pregnancy and not only is it safe for you and your baby, it’ll reduce your chances of becoming seriously ill as a result of flu from things like pneumonia, premature birth or even miscarriage.
“The added advantage is that your baby will continue to be protected from flu for the first few months of their life. Talk to your GP, practice nurse or midwife if you have any questions and they’ll be happy to help.”
If you are eligible for the flu vaccine, get it now – it’s free because you need it. Contact your general practice or pharmacist to get it.
You can find a wide range of information about the annual flu immunisation campaign and see whether you are eligible at: www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine if you have any further queries simply ask at your GP practice or pharmacist.