Have a flu jab now, urge Oldham midwives

Date published: 30 October 2018

Midwives at the Royal Oldham and North Manchester General hospitals are asking pregnant mums to consider having the flu jab now, before the flu virus starts circulating in Greater Manchester.

Having the flu jab, which is safe, and free of charge, to pregnant mums, is the best way to protect them and their child from contracting the potentially deadly virus.

Mums who are vaccinated even pass on some protection to their baby after it is born.

Pregnant women unfortunate enough to catch flu could see complications arise with their pregnancy, such as giving birth prematurely or giving birth to a baby with a low birth weight.

Stillbirth and death in the first week of a baby’s life are also possible.

Because pregnant women have a naturally low immune system, if they do catch flu, the symptoms are likely to be worse for them.

Babies can also catch the flu infection from their mums.

The Northern Care Alliance brings together two Trusts, Salford Royal and Pennine Acute, and manages five hospitals, including two with large maternity units, North Manchester General and the Royal Oldham, which help women deliver around 9,000 babies per year.

Simon Mehigan, divisional director of midwifery and gynaecology at The Northern Care Alliance, said: “I would urge all pregnant women to be vaccinated against flu as it is the best way to avoid getting the virus and it will protect both mum and baby from being very poorly.

"It will also mean that mum can concentrate on preparing for the birth, safe in the knowledge that she has done all she can do to prevent a flu infection.

“Flu spreads quickly and the last thing you want when you are pregnant is to be worrying about infecting your baby and falling ill yourself.

"The flu vaccine has been proven to be safe over many years, so pregnant women should not worry about that.”

Irene Shepherd, Oldham CCG flu lead and practice nurse at Hopwood House Medical Practice, Oldham, said: “I really can’t emphasise enough the importance of protecting yourself and your precious baby against flu.

"All practices are now immunising all pregnant women at any stage in your pregnancy. Just give your GP practice a ring and book yourself in. Flu is not just a heavy cold and has lots of complications that can be worse in pregnancy.”

Dr Ruth Bromley, Chair, Manchester Health & Care Commissioning Board, added: "We want all our mums and their babies to be as healthy as possible. 

"​Flu in pregnancy can be very serious for women, and, rarely, it can even lead to death.​

"Sadly, I have experience of this from my clinical practice and I wouldn't want anyone else's family to have to cope with such tragedy.

"Please consider having your flu jab. It is free and will protect both you and your baby."

Pregnant women who would like to be vaccinated against flu should speak to their midwife or GP in the first instance. The best protection against flu is to be vaccinated against it.

Women who have additional complications with their pregnancy can be vaccinated in hospital.

One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia.

Other less common complications include:

middle ear infection (otitis media)

a blood infection that causes a severe drop in blood pressure (septic shock)

infection of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)

inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)

Some important facts to remember about flu are:

It is possible for you to be a carrier of flu and not show any symptoms, and so be unaware that you are potentially infecting any people you come into contact with

The flu vaccine has been updated this season to incorporate the new strains of flu that are expected to be prevalent in this season inc ‘Japanese flu’

Just because you were vaccinated last season this does not mean you are protected this season

The flu jab does not really hurt, it just feels like a tiny scratch

Flu can have serious and even fatal consequences, especially for vulnerable people such as the elderly, very young and those with long-term conditions

Find out more about flu on the NHS Choices website:

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