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.
Anne McGowan, nurse consultant at Public Health Wales, said: “It’s really important for pregnant women to ensure they are protected against influenza. Expectant mothers do not have the same ability as other healthy people to fight viruses such as flu, which is an illness that can be devastating for the woman and her unborn baby.
“If a pregnant woman catches flu it can cause severe complications to mother and baby; one quick, simple, vaccination will help to protect the woman and will also give added protection to her baby during their first months of life.”
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.