Are you pregnant? Protect yourself and your unborn baby from flu complications

Influenza, commonly known as flu, is a highly infectious viral illness. For most healthy people, the seasonal flu is mostly unpleasant. However, those who are pregnant are at particular risk from the more serious effects of flu.
woman holding baby

Pregnant people are four times more likely to develop serious illness and up to five times more likely to be admitted to hospital as compared to the general population. And this risk increases in the later stages of pregnancy.

In 2019-20, around 1600 of pregnant people received the flu vaccination which is around 37% of the pregnant people listed and so far in 2020-21 around 18% of pregnant people have taken up the offer of a free flu vaccine.

Public Health Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire GP Core Group, Kettering and Northampton General Hospital’s maternity services are urging those who are pregnant to opt for their free flu vaccination and stay protected from the virus.

With the risk of COVID-19 circulating, this winter more than ever, the flu vaccination is vital to keep pregnant people and their babies safe and protected. As seen with COVID-19, respiratory illnesses can be extremely serious and can be fatal. Those with co-infection of the two viruses are more at risk of severe respiratory complications or death, and most cases of co- infection were in older people and those at ‘high risk’, like pregnant people.

Babies born to those who have had the flu are up to four times more likely to be born prematurely and be born with a low birth weight. Flu in pregnancy can even lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, reduced growth and even death in the first week of life.

The NHS offers pregnant people and their babies a free, safe and effective vaccination to reduce the chance of getting the flu and reduce the risk of these complications.

"The flu vaccination is the best protection against flu and, contrary to popular belief, it is not a live vaccine which gives you flu. It’s safe during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks through to the woman’s due date and doesn’t carry any risks for mother or baby. 

"Having this vaccination during pregnancy can help protect your baby for several months after they are born, which is important as babies cannot be vaccinated before 6 months. The flu vaccine can safely be given to pregnant women at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine."

Mara Tonks Head of Midwifery at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

"The flu vaccination is safe during any stage of pregnancy from the first few weeks through to the woman’s due date and doesn’t carry any risks for baby or mother. The vaccine administered is not a live vaccine and contrary to popular belief, it does not give you flu.

"Having this vaccination during pregnancy can help protect your baby for several months after they are born, which is important as babies cannot be vaccinated before 6 months. The flu vaccine can also safely be given to pregnant women at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine."

Trish Ryan, Deputy Director of Midwifery at Northampton General Hospital

"Only 964 pregnant women have received their flu vaccination and there are another 4,387 pregnant women residing in Northamptonshire who have not had their vaccination yet. If you are one of them, speak to your midwife, GP or pharmacist to arrange for your free flu vaccination."
— Dr Annapurna Sen from Public Health Northamptonshire

Find out more about the flu jab in pregnancy

It's recommended that all pregnant people have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they're at.

Find out more

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