Pregnant women can protect themselves and their unborn babies against influenza (flu), a potentially dangerous disease, with a free NHS flu vaccine.

Public Health Wales is urging all pregnant women to get their flu vaccine this winter, as they are more vulnerable to infection and not able to fight viruses such as flu as well as other people.

A woman who catches flu during pregnancy is at risk of becoming very unwell, and is more likely to deliver her baby early, or for the baby to be stillborn or very ill in the first week following the birth. A pregnant woman who catches flu is seven times more likely to die than a non-pregnant woman with flu.

The flu vaccine is safe for use during pregnancy, and not only helps protect women against catching flu, but can also help protect their unborn child for up to six months after birth.

Rachel Fielding, Head of Midwifery at Cwm Taf University Health Board said: “We would encourage all mums-to-be to have the flu vaccination to protect themselves and their unborn baby, whilst also protecting their baby in the first few months too.

“Flu can be a very serious condition if contracted in pregnancy and we want the best outcome for all pregnant women in Cwm Taf and this is one thing women can do for themselves to help protect their health and that of their baby in the very best way.”

Influenza is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms generally come on suddenly, and can include fever, chills, headache, cough, body aches and fatigue.

The influenza virus is spread via droplets which are sprayed into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Direct contact with contaminated hands or surfaces can also spread infection. It can spread rapidly, especially in closed communities such as hospitals, residential homes and schools.

Dr Nia Allen, a GP from Anglesey who is expecting her third child, said:

“As a doctor, I make sure I have the influenza vaccination every year to help protect me from catching flu and spreading it to others.

“The vaccine is particularly important to me this year as I’m pregnant.

“I know that influenza can be very serious during pregnancy for the woman and her unborn baby.  I want to give my unborn child the best possible start in life.”

For more information about pregnancy and the flu vaccination, please visit www.beatflu.org or www.curwchffliw.org or speak to your midwife.

 

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