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Pregnant women and young children need the flu vaccine

27 November 2015


Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) is asking pregnant women to have the flu jab. The CCG is also appealing to parents or guardians of children between two and six years of age, to get their children vaccinated against flu.

Pregnant women who get flu are more likely to develop complications such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. In addition, if a pregnant woman develops a complication of flu there’s a chance that it will lead to early (premature) labour, miscarriage or low birth weight of the growing baby. Although vaccines are not suitable for babies under the age of six months, protection is passed on to the baby from the mother until baby can be vaccinated.

For children, the flu vaccine is given as a single dose of nasal spray squeezed up each nostril. This not only stops your child from getting the flu, but as children don’t always cover their mouths when sneezing, use tissues, or wash their hands it also protects their family, carers and the wider population. This is very important for those vulnerable to flu such as babies, older people, pregnant women and people with serious long term illness. Children often need medical care because of flu, especially before the age of five and it is particularly important that children with long term health conditions such as asthma are vaccinated against flu.

Dr Annapurna Sen from Public Health Bedfordshire said: “Last year 2,130 pregnant women registered with GPs with Bedfordshire received a free flu vaccination, but another 1,706 who were eligible did not. Just 8,627 children age 2, 3 and 4 years were immunised with flu vaccine; remaining 10,277 (54%) children in this age group did not”.

“It’s free because you need it”

Pregnant women and children from 2 to 6 years of age are eligible for the flu vaccination. It is also available to children aged six months and above with a serious medical condition such as: respiratory, Heart, kidney, Liver or Neurological disease; Diabetes; Immunosuppression and Absence or dysfunction of the spleen. If your child belongs to one of these groups; speak to your GP to book a vaccination appointment or speak to your local pharmacy as they may also provide free flu vaccination.

Will the vaccine protect me?

The vaccine is safe and effective, and can reduce the chances of getting flu and related complications by up to 70% and of death from flu by 80%.

It is important to have a vaccination every winter as the virus is constantly changing. The flu vaccine contains three commonly circulating flu strains and provides full protection against these strains. Nasal flu vaccine given to children contains four commonly circulating strains.

More information about how to stay well this winter, including advice on flu and winter illness is available on BCCG’s website www.bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk/your health/stay well this winter or www.nhs.staywell

For more details about flu vaccine, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx

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