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26 October 2016
Health experts in Bedfordshire are strongly advising all pregnant women to have the flu jab to protect their health and the lives of their unborn babies.
Doctors are also appealing to parents or guardians of children between two and seven years of age, to get youngsters vaccinated with the free flu.
Dr Dayo Kuku, Bedfordshire Commissioning Group’s lead clinician for respiratory disease, said: “Pregnant women are at extra risk of catching flu and developing serious complications such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy because pregnancy lowers the body’s immunity.
“In addition, the complication of flu mean there’s a chance that it will lead to miscarriage, early (premature) labour, 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’s vaccination until baby can be vaccinated.
“Having the free flu jab is the best way to protect yourself and your unborn baby from the risks of flu.”
Local doctor’s surgeries are putting on extra clinic sessions to give the flu vaccine and have written to invite especially vulnerable patients in for the protective jab. If you are in any doubt, contact your GP or speak to a pharmacist.
Children aged from two to seven are also being offered the flu vaccine – with those in primary school years 1, 2 and 3 being offered the vaccine at school.
For young children, the vaccine is given as a single dose of nasal spray squeezed up each nostril which has been shown to be especially effective. This not only stops children 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 members, carers and the wider population.
More information about flu and winter illness www.nhs.staywell
For more details about flu vaccine, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx