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New report warns pregnant women to get the flu jab

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Kent County Council, Dec 10, 2014. Replies: 0 | Views: 1564

  1. Kent County Council is backing calls by Public Health England for more pregnant women to come forward for the free flu vaccination this winter as a new report shows how fatal the virus can be for pregnant women.


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

    Within this period, which includes the influenza pandemic in 2009/10, a total of 36 pregnant women died with strains of the flu virus that the current vaccine will protect against. Half of the deaths occurred after the vaccine became available free-of-charge to pregnant women but sadly none of the women were known to be vaccinated.

    The report is published as latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) show that, while influenza levels remain low in England, there are recent indications that it is beginning to circulate more widely in communities as the number of outbreaks and hospitalisations due to the virus begins to increase. In Kent last year, only 34.3% of pregnant women had the flu jab – the lowest take-up in the country (national average was 39.8%).

    "Pregnant women are at increased risk of serious complications and death from flu compared with other healthy adults," explains Kent County Council Consultant Faiza Khan. She added: "Flu can also affect the pregnancy, resulting in stillbirth, prematurity and low birthweight. This is serious for new-born babies, who cannot be protected themselves by vaccination, but gain some protection if their mother is vaccinated in pregnancy. The mother's antibodies from the vaccine help to prevent serious infection from flu for the baby in first few weeks of life. We urge Kent's pregnant women to contact their GP now and get the free flu jab."

    Professor Maria Zambon, Director of PHE's Reference Microbiology Centre, said: "Flu is now largely preventable for pregnant women and their babies, because a free, safe and effective vaccination is offered from the NHS. The vaccine is not a live vaccine and it cannot give you flu. Despite this, around 60% of pregnant women in England have yet to get the flu vaccine this winter - and this of great concern."

    Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation for PHE, added: "We know that mothers want to do all they can to protect their babies and it's not too late for pregnant women to get vaccinated. We urge all pregnant women, and anyone else who is eligible but hasn't yet received their free flu vaccination, to contact their GP or midwife today. It's free because you need it."

    KCC News

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