The Flu Vaccination in Pregnancy
Flu, which usually occurs every winter, is a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly. These are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Flu is caused by the influenza viruses, which infect the windpipe and lungs and because it is not caused by bacteria, antibiotics will not treat it.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. You can prevent the spread of the virus by washing your hands frequently or using hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus.
However, the best way to avoid catching flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts. The vaccines protect against the main three or four types of flu virus most likely to be circulating.
Public Health England, and therefore the NHS, recommend that all pregnant women should have the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their babies. The vaccine can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy, from conception onwards, and it is free. Their leaflet is very clear, pregnant women benefit from the flu vaccine because it will reduce the risk of serious complications such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. It will reduce the risk of miscarriage or having a baby born to early or with a low birth weight. It will help to protect your baby who will continue to have some immunity to flu during the first few months and it will reduce the chance of the mother passing the infection to her new baby.
It is best to have the flu vaccination in the autumn before any outbreaks of flu. Remember that you need it every year, so don’t assume that you are protected because you had one last year.
This year two, three and four year old children, school years 1 and 2, and in some areas all primary school aged children, are being offered the flu vaccination. They are given the vaccine as a spray in each nostril, so it is a very quick and painless process. As well as protecting them against flu, it will help reduce its spread to other children, brothers and sisters and their parents and grandparents.
Kensington Midwives feel that protecting your baby by having the whooping cough vaccine and the flu vaccine while pregnant is an excellent benefit, even if you feel that you would not normally want to have vaccinations yourself.