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WHERE CAN I GET A FLU JAB?
This section is intended for healthcare professionals and associated healthcare employees in the UK only – this includes GPs, nurses, practice managers, GP practice administration support, pharmacists and pharmacy counter assistants.
If you are not a healthcare professional or healthcare employee, you should not enter this section – information regarding flu can be found on the main website.I AM A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE I AM NOT A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE
Whilst you are pregnant, you obviously want to stay as fit and healthy as possible, and this includes avoiding the flu. Of course, many mums-to-be who get the flu will recover quickly but there may be an increased risk of complications for both you and your baby.1
Risks for you
When you are pregnant, changes to your immune system, heart and lungs may mean that you experience flu more severely than a woman who is not pregnant2.
You may also be more likely to be hospitalised as a result of having the flu, or of developing a more serious infection such as pneumonia or bronchitis3.
These complications can occur at any time during the first, second or third trimester, but are most likely to happen after week 27 until you give birth – and up to two weeks after you give birth4.
Risks for your baby
If you catch or develop flu while you’re pregnant, there may be an increased risk of miscarriage, premature delivery and/or a lower birth weight4.
Protecting yourself and your baby from flu
The flu viruses circulate predominantly during the winter. So if you’re pregnant, you should think about how to help protect yourself as the flu season approaches.
Vaccination is the most effective way to avoid developing the flu5, and you can receive it at any stage of your pregnancy. It may also help to continue help protecting both yourself and your baby for up to 6 months after you give birth6,7.
Get vaccinated early – from October to early November – to ensure you’re protected right through the winter
Is a flu vaccination safe for you and your baby?
The safety and tolerability of vaccines is monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as well as by vaccines manufacturers.
In addition, the Department of Health recommend that pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy (first, second or third semester) should be vaccinated against flu each year8.
A review of studies on safety of Influenza vaccines in pregnancy concluded that inactivated influenza vaccine can be administered during any trimester of pregnancy and no study to date has demonstrated an increased risk of either material complications or adverse fetal outcomes associated with inactivated influenza vaccine8.
Other ways to avoid infection
You can also take additional steps, such as avoiding public transport and crowds. However, if you’re unable to avoid public transport (for example, if you need to get to hospital for treatment or an appointment), wash your hands after every trip, use the antiseptic hand gel dispensers in the hospital regularly, cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and dispose of any used tissues as quickly as possible.
You can get your free flu vaccination* at your GP surgery or in a pharmacy. Most pharmacies in the UK now offer both the NHS free flu jab as well as a private jab. This might be a more convenient option for you. Enter your postcode in the search box above to find your nearest local flu clinic.
*Free NHS jabs are available only to those who fall within the current risk categories.
1. Public Health England. National flu immunisation programme plan for 2017 to 2018. March 2017. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-flu-immunisation-programme-plan (accessed July 2017)
2. Yudin MH. Risk management of seasonal influenza during pregnancy: current perspectives. Intl J Womens Health. 2014;6:681-89. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4122531/ (accessed July 2017)
3. NHS. The flu jab in pregnancy. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/flu-jab-vaccine-pregnant.aspx (accessed July 2017)
4. NHS. Why are pregnant women at higher risk of flu complications? http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/3096.aspx?CategoryID=5 (accessed July 2017)
5. World Health Organization. Influenza (Seasonal) Fact Sheet No. 211, November 2016. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/index.html (accessed July 2017)
6. Dabrera G, Zho H, Andrews N et al. Effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccination during pregnancy in preventing influenza infection in infants, England, 2013.14, Euro Surveill. 2014 Nov 13; 19 (45):20959. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25411687 (accessed July 2017)
7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pregnant Women & Influenza (Flu). http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/pregnant.htm (accessed July 2017)
8. Public Health England. The Geen Book. Chapter 19. Influenza. August 2015. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data
/file/456568/2904394_Green_Book_Chapter_19_v10_0.pdf (accessed July 2017)