Pregnant Women Across Forth Valley Urged to Get Flu Vaccine

The Royal College of Midwives is urging more pregnant women across Forth Valley to get their flu vaccine to help protect themselves and their babies this winter.

The call comes after statistics highlighted that over half (56 percent) 1 of those pregnant in Forth Valley didn’t receive their vaccine last winter and that flu was the cause of death among one in 11 women who died during, or shortly after, pregnancy 2.

Pregnant women who contract flu are also five times more likely to have a stillborn baby, or for the baby to die in the first week following birth.

Director of the Royal College of Midwives Scotland, Mary Ross-Davie said:

“Flu is a really serious illness – it is not just a bad cold.  It can have a serious impact on those expecting a baby, which is why we’re encouraging expectant mothers to get the vaccine.

“If you’ve been pregnant before, remember that a healthy and flu-free pregnancy last time is no guarantee that you won’t catch flu this time.

“The flu vaccine is free, it’s safe to have at any time during pregnancy, and it only takes a few minutes.  To ensure you’re protected this winter, I’d encourage you to make booking your GP vaccination appointment a priority.”

Dr Henry A. Prempeh, NHS Forth Valley Public Health Consultant, said: “It’s so important that pregnant women across Scotland get the flu vaccine this year as they are at greater risk of flu related complications.

“The vaccine is safe for pregnant women and their baby at any stage of pregnancy and also helps protect them both from what can be a serious virus.

“We are urging all pregnant women across Forth Valley to make an appointment with their GP practice; it will help protect you for up to a year and also your baby for at least three months after birth.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Gregor Smith said:

“Flu doesn’t discriminate and even the fittest and healthiest among us can fall seriously ill. Pregnant women can be much more vulnerable to flu due to changes to their immune system, heart and lungs. When pregnancy is combined with an at risk condition the risk becomes even greater. Evidence shows pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.

“There is no doubt that women want to do as much as they can to keep their baby safe and healthy during pregnancy, and as we come into our coldest months that should include getting their flu vaccine. It not only protects the mother from contracting flu but will also protect baby for several months following their birth, when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Visit www.immunisationscotland.org.uk/flu or phone NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88 for further information

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For further information, contact Consolidated PR on 0131 240 6420 / scotland@consolidatedpr.com

Notes to editors:

1 Source: The Forth Valley flu vaccine uptake rate for 2016/17 for all pregnant women (regardless of risk factors) was 56.2%, NHS National Services Scotland.

2 Source: The national maternal deaths report was led by the a team of academics, clinicians and charity representatives, called MBRRACE-UK and shows that amongst the women who died in, or shortly after, pregnancy between 2009 and 2012, flu was the cause of death in one in 11.

The following groups are eligible for the flu vaccine:

  • Those aged 65 years of age and over
  • Those with a medical condition which puts them in an ‘at risk’ group such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, heart and lung diseases, or autoimmune disorders
  • NHS Scotland workers are encouraged to get the vaccine to help protect themselves, their families, their colleagues, and patients who are potentially vulnerable to flu.
  • Unpaid carers
  • Pregnant women (including those with at risk conditions)
  • Children aged 2-11 years old. 2-5 year olds and not yet in school will be vaccinated at their GP practice. 5-11 year olds will be vaccinated at school during the autumn term