The NHS in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are urging pregnant women to continue using health services to protect themselves and their unborn baby.
One of the best things a pregnant woman can do is to have the flu vaccination.
Having the flu jab at any stage of pregnancy protects women and also gives newborn babies vital protection in the first few months of their lives.
Hampshire GP Dr Nicola Decker said: “I encourage all pregnant women to get their flu vaccine.
“During pregnancy a woman’s immune system is naturally weakened as it works hard to protect both mum and baby.
“Getting flu during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, having a baby born too soon or born with a low birth weight.
“By having your free flu vaccination, either during an appointment with your midwife or at your GP practice reduces this risk.
“It also provides protection for your baby once they are born. It’s safe to have at any stage in your pregnancy and we would encourage you to take up the offer.”
As well as getting the flu jab, women are being reminded to attend their routine maternity appointments, which might be conducted a little differently due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Jo Mountfield, a consultant obstetrician and director of education and workforce at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “There’s no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to contract coronavirus than other people and for many woman, especially if they are fit and well with no underlying risk factors they are unlikely to be seriously unwell.
“That said, we understand this may be a concerning time and you will have many questions about how coronavirus could affect you, your baby and your pregnancy care.
“It’s important to know you’ll still have regular appointments and scans while you’re pregnant. But there may be some changes to how the service works, taking into account the extra precautions we have in hospitals to keep everyone safe.
“Keep talking with your midwife about your concerns, as you normally would, and follow the national guidance around washing your hands, wear face coverings and maintaining social distance.
“Please also take up the offer of a flu vaccination. This is safe for you and your baby and can reduce the chances of you contracting flu which can potentially be more serious in pregnancy for you both.”
To find out more about pregnancy and flu visit NHS.uk.
Notes to editors
You can download the video of midwife Hannah Smith here until November 17, 2020 – https://wetransfer.com/downloads/71b8f21af2db0436706cfdfcb2636ec420201111110744/346de5483d93b4d8389472d9a2413f5c20201111110744/42727e
Each year the vaccination is free for people most ‘at risk’ of having severe flu:
anyone aged 65 and over
children and adults aged 6 months to 65 years with an underlying health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease, weakened immune system or have a learning disability)
- children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2020
- children in primary school
- people living in long stay residential care homes
- frontline health or social care workers
And this year it has also been expanded to include the following groups of people too:
- people living with someone who’s at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
- children in year 7 (secondary school)
- People aged 50 to 64 without a long-term condition (from November onwards if sufficient vaccine stock is available)
Unsure whether to have your flu vaccine? We hope the below Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) will help.
What is flu?
Flu is an unpleasant disease that spreads quickly and easily through coughing and sneezing. Flu can also give you headaches, a sore throat, fever, chills, and muscle and joint aches. Those people who are at risk, either because of their age or medical conditions, may develop complications such as chest infections and pneumonia.
Why get the vaccine?
The vaccine provides the best available protection against flu. It is not 100% but it will protect a significant number of people and reduce the severity of flu if you get it. It could also help your relatives or carers because you will not be passing the disease to them.
I’ve heard that the vaccination can give you flu. Is that true?
No; the flu vaccine that is given to adults is made from dead flu virus and cannot cause the infection. The flu vaccine that will be given to most children is a live vaccine, but the viruses in it have been weakened so they can not cause flu. You may get some side effects after the vaccination but these are quite mild like a slightly raised temperature or aching muscles for a couple of days or an ache in the arm where the injection was given. Other reactions are very rare.
Will the flu vaccine protect me against coronavirus?
Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against coronavirus. However, the flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalisation and death.
I think I have coronavirus symptoms – should I still come in for a vaccination?
The symptoms of coronavirus are:
- A new continuous cough
- A high temperature
- A loss of taste and/or smell
If you have any of these symptoms then you should stay at home and self-isolate and attend only when you have recovered or tested negative for coronavirus.