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Pregnant women at high risk of flu complications – get jabbed

Dr Hilary assures flu jab is 'safe as houses' on Lorraine

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During the winter months we are all more likely to be hit with illnesses such as flu. It can leave us exhausted, achy and with a high temperature. But for some the side effects can be much worse.

A pharmacist has urged pregnant women to ensure they take up the flu vaccine as soon as possible to prevent any unwanted complications.

Bina Mehta, a Boots pharmacist, explained: “The NHS advises that all pregnant women have the flu jab as it helps protect both mother and baby from the virus.

“Pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from flu at any stage of pregnancy, so it’s a good idea for them to get vaccinated as soon as possible, ideally now, in the autumn, before flu really starts circulating.

“Pregnant women are entitled to a free NHS flu jab, available at GP surgeries and community pharmacies like Boots.”

According to the NHS, one common complication of flu is bronchitis, which can develop into pneumonia.

“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,” the health body explains.

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

“If you have flu while you’re pregnant, it could cause your baby to be born prematurely or have a low birthweight, and may even lead to stillbirth or death.”

Ms Mehta wanted to reassure women that the vaccine is safe during pregnancy,“Studies have shown that it’s safe to have a flu jab during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to the due date,” she said.

“It’s also safe for women who are breastfeeding to have a flu jab.”

One such study was published in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology journal in 2013.

After analysing more than 74,000 participants, it concluded: “In this large cohort, influenza vaccination during pregnancy was not associated with increased risks for medically attended adverse obstetric events.”

Ms Mehta also encouraged women to take vitamin D supplements during the colder months.

She said: “During the autumn and winter months, pregnant women should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of Vitamin D.

“All adults need vitamin D each day to help regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Vitamin D also helps support a healthy immune system.

“The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors. In the spring and summer, most people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight, although some groups of people including those with dark skin and those who cover most of their skin should take a vitamin D supplement all year round.

“In the autumn and winter months we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight, so the Government recommends that adults and children over four years should take daily vitamin D from October to March every year.”

Common symptoms of flu include:

  • A sudden high temperature
  • An aching body
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • A dry cough
  • A sore throat
  • A headache
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • Feeling sick and being sick.

If you have flu the best things you can do are:

  • Rest and sleep
  • Keep warm
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.Other people eligible for a flu vaccine every year include those aged over 50, those with certain health conditions and those in long-stay residential care.

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