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27 September 2018
Doctors in Luton and Bedfordshire are urging more pregnant women and young children to get their free flu vaccine as soon as possible, to protect their health.
Women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant are eligible for a free flu jab, while children between the ages of two and nine years are also eligible and will receive a free flu nasal spray.
Last winter, less than 40% of pregnant women in Luton received the flu jab, while in Bedfordshire, 48% took up the offer of the free vaccine.
Pregnant women and children are more at risk of developing serious complications such as pneumonia, meningitis, severe ear infections and tonsillitis and for the best protection, flu vaccines should be taken early, ideally between September and November.
In pregnant women flu may cause miscarriage, premature birth and even stillbirth, but taking the flu vaccine while pregnant can protect babies for several months after they are born, which is important as babies cannot receive the flu vaccine under the age of six months of age.
Dr Dayo Kuku, GP and Respiratory Clinical Lead at Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We want more pregnant women to be protected by the flu vaccine this winter. Pregnant women are less able to fight off infections and therefore they are more likely to become seriously ill if they contract the flu virus.
The best protection against flu is to have the vaccine, which is safe at all stages of pregnancy. Even if you’ve had the flu jab before, it’s important to get it again because the vaccine changes to match the type of virus that is circulating.
Ask your midwife, GP practice or pharmacist about your free flu vaccination now. It’s free because you need it”.
Dr Chirag Bakhai, a GP and Clinical Director at Luton Clinical Commissioning Group said: “It is really important to protect young children and babies against the flu as they are more vulnerable to developing serious complications.
“The flu vaccination is completely free and as well as protecting your child it will also help prevent the spread of flu to other vulnerable members of the family and in the wider community.
The flu vaccination does not give you the flu, but some people may experience minor symptoms afterwards, as with other vaccinations.
I would urge all pregnant women, and parents of young children to take up the offer of the free vaccination.”
For more information about how to get a free flu vaccine if you are pregnant, contact your midwife or GP.
Local doctors’ surgeries are already taking bookings for vaccination clinics for patients who are at risk from seasonal flu.
For more information about flu and the flu vaccination please visit the NHS website: