FOR UK HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS ONLY

This section is intended for healthcare professionals and associated healthcare employees who are involved in patient care or service provision for influenza immunisation in the UK only – this includes (but is not limited to) GPs, nurses, practice managers, pharmacists, and pharmacy counter assistants.

I AM A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED HEALTHCARE EMPLOYEE I AM NOT A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED HEALTHCARE EMPLOYEE

Risks from flu in pregnancy

Whilst you are pregnant, you obviously want to stay as fit and healthy as possible, and this includes avoiding the flu. Of course, many mums-to-be who get the flu will recover quickly but there may be an increased risk of complications for both you and your baby.1

 

Risks for you

When you are pregnant, changes to your immune system, heart and lungs may mean that you experience flu more severely than a woman who is not pregnant2.

You may also be more likely to develop a more serious infection such as pneumonia or bronchitis1.

These complications can occur at any time during pregnancy, but are most likely during the later stages1.

 

Risks for your baby

If you catch or develop flu while you’re pregnant, there may be an increased risk of a premature delivery, your baby having a lower birth weight, as well as possibly experiencing stillbirth in the most serious cases1.

 

Protecting yourself and your baby from flu

The flu viruses circulate predominantly during the winter. So if you’re pregnant, you should think about how to help protect yourself as the flu season approaches.

Vaccination is the most effective way to avoid developing the flu3, and you can receive it at any stage of your pregnancy. It may also help to continue help protecting both yourself and your baby for the first few months after you give birth1.

Get vaccinated as soon as possible, ideally before the end of November, to ensure you’re protected right through the winter4.

 

Is a flu vaccination safe for you and your baby?

The safety and tolerability of vaccines is monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as well as by vaccine manufacturers.

In addition, the Department of Health recommend that pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy (first, second or third semester) should be vaccinated against flu each year5.

A review of studies on safety of Influenza vaccines in pregnancy concluded that inactivated influenza vaccine can be administered during any trimester of pregnancy5

 

Other ways to avoid infection

You can also take additional steps, such as avoiding public transport and crowds. However, if you’re unable to avoid public transport (for example, if you need to get to hospital for treatment or an appointment), wash your hands after every trip, use the antiseptic hand gel dispensers in the hospital regularly, cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and dispose of any used tissues as quickly as possible.

 

You can get your free NHS flu vaccination* at your GP surgery or in a pharmacy, while most pharmacies in the UK also offer private jabs.

*Free NHS jabs are available only to those who fall within the current risk categories.

 

References

  1. NHS Choices. The flu jab in pregnancy. August 2016. Available online: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/flu-jab-vaccine-pregnant.aspx (accessed July 2018)
  2. Yudin MH. Risk management of seasonal influenza during pregnancy: current perspectives. Intl J Womens Health. 2014;6:681-89.
  3. World Health Organization. Influenza (Seasonal) Fact Sheet, January 2018. Available online: http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal) (accessed July 2018)
  4. Public Health England. National flu immunisation programme plan for 2018 to 2019. March 2018. Available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-flu-immunisation-programme-plan (accessed July 2018)
  5. Public Health England. Immunisation against infectious disease: the green book. Chapter 19: Influenza, August 2018. Available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_
    data/file/456568/2904394_Green_Book_Chapter_19_v10_0.pdf

    (accessed September 2018)

Adverse Event Reporting

I AM A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE I AM NOT A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE