Mums-to-be are being urged to protect themselves and their unborn baby by getting their free vaccination against the flu virus.

Flu can cause many complications during pregnancy, particularly in the latter stages, such as premature birth or low birth weight. In extreme cases it can tragically lead to still birth or death in the first weeks of life.

Free flu vaccinations are available to all pregnant women, and John Denley, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Director of Public Health, said: "Mums to be keeping fit and healthy during pregnancy is crucially important for their unborn child's growth and development. 

“The immune system is naturally lower during pregnancy and if people catch the flu it can become serious very quickly, so we are encouraging all pregnant women to get their free flu vaccination this winter.

“Even if you’ve had the flu vaccination before, it’s important to get it again because the type of virus in circulation changes every year, so the vaccine changes too. If you are towards the end of your pregnancy you can also have the whooping cough vaccination at the same time.”

The flu vaccination is the best protection against flu. It’s safe during any stage in pregnancy and doesn’t carry any risks for mother or baby. Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.

Anyone who is pregnant is eligible for the flu vaccination free of charge and should speak to their midwife, GP or pharmacist.

The flu vaccine is also available free to people with certain long-term health conditions, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, heart, kidney or liver disease, people who have suffered a stroke, the over 65s, carers and care staff and people in long-stay residential care homes.

People who are not eligible for the free vaccination can still get vaccinated at many local pharmacies for a small charge. For more information, please visit Flu Vaccines.