Expectant mums in north Cumbria can now get their flu vaccine at their dating scan

Pregnant women are now being offered vital protection against flu at their 12 week pregnancy dating scan in north Cumbria

In pregnancy women are more susceptible to flu because their immune systems are naturally weaker and pregnant women who get the flu may be less able to fight off infections, increasing the risk of becoming ill. The flu jab is the safest way to protect mums and babies against flu and is available at any stage of pregnancy.

Women who have had the flu vaccine whilst pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives. By choosing to get the flu jab it can also help reduce their risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight and stillbirth.

At North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust the flu vaccine is now being offered to pregnant women when they attend for their first dating scan.  Pregnant women can also receive the vaccine at their GP surgery or at a local pharmacy.

 Denise Lightfoot, consultant midwife at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said:

“It's recommended that all pregnant women have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they're at. The flu vaccine is normally available from September until around January or February each year and it’s free for pregnant women.

“If you are pregnant it is important to try to have it as soon as possible so you are protected by the time the flu viruses are circulating in the winter. There is good evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy which is why I would urge any mothers to be to take up the offer of getting their free flu jab.

“We have worked to make it as easy as possible for women to get vaccinated when they’re coming to hospital for an appointment anyway, without the hassle of making a separate appointment. I’d like to reiterate that a common myth we hear about the flu jab causing flu is not the case as the vaccine is not live therefore makes it impossible to catch the virus from getting the jab.”

 Colin Cox, Cumbria County Council’s Director of Public Health, said:

“This is a great step for pregnant women in north and west Cumbria and makes it much easier for expectant mothers to protect themselves and their babies from this highly infectious disease.

“There is strong evidence that pregnant women have a much higher risk of serious illness as a result of flu, compared with the general population and the risks are highest in the last three months of pregnancy.

“I hope all pregnant women will take up the offer of a free flu jab from their midwife, it’s free because you need it and it is now easier than ever to get one.”

Additionally, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has been granted funding to support a national initiative called “Stop Smoking in Pregnancy”. Staff in in the Trust will begin their training in the New Year.