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Health chiefs urge pregnant Bromley women to have flu jab

PUBLISHED: 12:58 21 November 2011

Less than 50 per cent of pregnant women in Bromley had the flu jab last year

Less than 50 per cent of pregnant women in Bromley had the flu jab last year

Archant

Health chiefs are urging pregnant women to make sure they protect their unborn children by getting the flub jab this winter.

Director of Public Health for Bromley, Dr Angel Bhan, said she wanted to reassure women that the injection would not have any ill effects on babies.

Last year less than 50 per cent of pregnant women in Bromley were vaccinated against flu, despite the increased risks they face by catching the virus.

Dr Bhan said: “Pregnant women are at increased risk of complications if they catch flu. In fact, studies have shown that pregnant women with flu are four times more likely to develop serious illness and four to five times more likely to be admitted to hospital than the general population.

“I know that some mums-to-be worry about the effect that the flu vaccine could have on their unborn child.

“I want to reassure people that the seasonal flu vaccine is safe, and has been given routinely to pregnant women in the US and in other European countries for many years.

“Research shows that the jab is safe for mother and baby and can be given at any stage of pregnancy. The earlier you have the vaccine the better as it means you will be protected for the whole winter.”

It normally takes between 10 and 14 days to develop protection after the vaccine, and protection against flu lasts all winter but only lasts for one year so must be repeated annually.

The injection is free for pregnant women and it will also protect the baby in the first few months of its life.

Flu rates are currently higher in London than elsewhere in the country.

The latest data from the Health Protection Agency shows less than 14 per cent of mums-to-be in England have had the jab so far this autumn despite the illness being potentially fatal.

For more information, speak to your doctor, midwife or local pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/flu.

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