A pregnant matron at Tameside Hospital has just received her flu vaccine and is urging other expectant mums to do the same this winter.
Jen Heath, 40, wanted to ensure she has maximum protection from flu as it’s recommended that all pregnant women have the free flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they’re at.
Jen said: “I have the flu vaccine every year as I work for the NHS. This year, it was even more important for me to be vaccinated as I am pregnant with my 4th baby. I know that if I were to get flu whilst pregnant, particularly in the later stages, that the complications arising from it can be more severe for both me and my baby.”
Pregnancy changes how the body responds to infections such as flu. Having flu increases the chances of pregnant women and their babies needing intensive care.
One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia.
If someone has flu while pregnant, it could cause the baby to be born prematurely or have a low birthweight, and may even lead to stillbirth or death.
As studies have shown that it’s safe to have a flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to the expected due date, Jen was keen for other expectant mums to be aware of this. She said: “One of the main myths around having the flu vaccine is that it can give you flu. This is not a live vaccine so it cannot give you flu. Like any vaccine, it can make you feel a bit achy and under the weather for a few days afterwards but I see that as a sign that my body is developing a good immune response.”
Women who have had a flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.
Cllr Eleanor Wills, Tameside Council Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Don’t forget to get your flu vaccine during pregnancy; it’s a simple step towards a healthier winter for you and your baby. If you haven’t already, get in touch with your GP to book your appointment.”
Jen has some final words for expectant mums: “I would encourage all pregnant women to get their vaccine as it offers the best protection against developing serious complications from flu for both them and their baby.”
Anyone looking to book their flu vaccine should contact their GP.