Pregnant women in Sandwell and West Birmingham urged to claim free flu jab

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Pregnant women in Sandwell and West Birmingham are being encouraged to protect themselves and their unborn child by making sure they are vaccinated before the deadly flu virus starts spreading.

NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has issued the plea as pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system and, as a result, increases the risk of a mother and unborn baby becoming seriously ill from flu. All pregnant women are recommended to receive the flu vaccine irrespective of their stage of pregnancy.

There is strong evidence that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu, which can harm them and their baby. These risks include bronchitis, pneumonia and an increased risk of having a miscarriage or the baby being born prematurely or with a low birth weight.

Dr Nick Harding, Chair at NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said: “Flu is a serious risk to both the mother and unborn baby. The flu jab is safe in pregnancy and dramatically cuts the chance you’ll get flu. Having flu while pregnant can be serious. It can lead to problems such as pneumonia and it can be fatal for a small number of women. It can also lead to miscarriage or premature birth, and it has been linked to having a low-weight baby and stillbirth.

"The vaccine is free and will offer protection to you and your baby. It will also pass some protection to your baby that will last for the first few months of his or her life. So if you are pregnant and haven’t yet had your vaccine, please speak with your GP, maternity service provider or local participating pharmacy as soon as possible.

“It takes about two weeks for our bodies to develop all the antibodies we’ll reap from the vaccination so pregnant women need to get protected as soon as they can to avoid flu ruining their Christmas and New Year celebrations.”

Appointments with a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional are also now available in the evenings and weekends, either at people’s local practice or another nearby NHS service.