Parents would do anything to protect their unborn baby but many pregnant women don't realise just how dangerous and debilitating flu can be.

Getting vaccinated against flu is the best way to protect mum and baby from the virus, and make sure they stay flu safe all winter.

Last year just 40% of pregnant women in England were vaccinated against flu, despite the increased risks they face by catching the virus.

Flu jabs are free for pregnant women and are quick, safe and completely free. Mums to be can have the jab at any stage of pregnancy, and it can also protect baby for the first few months after birth. People should ask their midwife or GP to make an appointment.

This year, for the first time, a free nasal vaccination spray is also being offered to parents of healthy 2 and 3 year olds so that their children can also be protected from the flu.

Ros Jervis, Wolverhampton's Director for Public Health, said: "Pregnant women are at increased risk of serious illness if they catch flu.

"Research shows that the jab is safe for mother and baby and can be given at any stage of pregnancy. The earlier you have the vaccine the better as it means you will be protected for the whole winter.

"Remember that as well as having potentially serious consequences, flu can lay you low for a couple of weeks and make it really difficult to look after your kids or go to work. Flu is the last thing you need when you're pregnant, and it's so easy to avoid with a quick jab.

"I'd also urge all parents of 2 to 3 year olds to take up the offer of a free nasal spray vaccine for their child, or children. While it's the first year the spray has been made available on the NHS, it has been used effectively and safely in other countries for a number of years."

The flu vaccine only lasts for a year, so anyone who had a vaccination last year or during a previous pregnancy will need another one to stay flu safe.

For more information about flu, people should speak to their GP, midwife or local pharmacist, or visit Type=links;Linkid=3091;Title=NHS Choices - Flu;Target=_blank;.

  • released: Wednesday 4 December, 2013