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Over 100 mums-to-be protected in flu jab marathon fortnight - 18 November 2016

Over 100 mums-to-be protected in flu jab marathon fortnight - 18 November 2016

Midwives at Musgrove Park Hospital have given over 100 pregnant women a flu jab in just two weeks.

It follows a trial by NHS England to offer all women giving birth at Musgrove an additional option of getting protected against flu – at their regular antenatal clinic appointment. Women can already get the vaccination at their GP practice or community pharmacy.

Of the 256 women offered a vaccination in the first two weeks of the trial, 102 were vaccinated by a midwife, and a further 84 had already been vaccinated by their GP or at a community pharmacy.

Pregnant women have a seven times greater risk of dying from flu-related illness than those who are not pregnant.

However, less than one in three women in the south west eligible for a flu vaccination have had one so far this winter.

Annette McHardy, from Milverton near Taunton, took the opportunity to have a flu vaccination at her antenatal clinic.

“I found it much easier to be able to have my flu vaccination at the same time as my antenatal appointment and even had my whooping cough injection at the same time,” she said.

“I know some people think flu is just a bit of a cold, but it really is dangerous so I had no hesitation in having my vaccination to protect my baby and myself.”

Debra Young, head of midwifery and children’s services at Musgrove Park Hospital, said:

“It is so important that pregnant women have this vaccination as there is such strong evidence of a much increased risk of developing complications, such as bronchitis, pneumonia or miscarriage, and they could even die.

“This is why I’d really urge those expecting to ask their midwife, GP or pharmacist for a vaccination.

“I also want to reassure mums-to-be that the flu vaccination is not harmful during any stage of pregnancy and offers the best level of protection for them and their baby.”

In addition to more pregnant women having a flu vaccination, NHS England has reported a significant increase in the number of primary school children in Somerset who have had the jab.

Early figures show that in year 1 of primary school the number of children vaccinated so far has gone up from just over half at this time in 2015 to 60 per cent. And, in school year 2 figures are also more promising, having increased from 51 per cent to 55 per cent over the last year. It is also available to year 3 pupil for the first time this year.

Vaccination for children is via a quick, effective and painless nasal spray. The spray is also available for children aged between two and four, via their GP surgery.

People can find out whether they are eligible for a free flu vaccination by visiting the NHS Stay Well This Winter page on the NHS Choices website: https://www.nhs.uk/staywell.