HSE urges pregnant women to get their flu vaccine ASAP

Now that the flu season has started, doctors are urging pregnant women to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible. Protecting yourself against the flu is vital because expectant women are at risk of severe complications from the flu. Not only does the vaccine protect you, but it also protects your baby.  

You can get the flu vaccine at any stage of pregnancy from your doctor or pharmacist. It is free for pregnant women, but you may be charged a consultation fee unless you have a medical card or GP visit card.

Impact of flu during pregnancy

Pregnant women are more likely to have complications due to changes in their heart and lung function. They are also more likely to be admitted to hospital and the Intensive Care Unit. The typical symptoms can also leave you feeling extremely weak and unwell. 

Flu vaccine protects your baby too

It is perfectly safe to get the vaccination during any stage of your pregnancy. There is no risk to you or your baby.

Getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy can protect your baby in the womb and for up to the first six months of their life. It can prevent you getting flu and passing it on to your baby. Babies are particularly vulnerable to the flu so getting the flu vaccine reduces your baby’s risk of being admitted to hospital 

When to get the flu vaccine

If you are already pregnant it’s recommend that you get vaccinated at the beginning of October so now is the time to book your appointment. The flu season in Ireland usually runs from early October to the end of April. Dr Venita Broderick, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist on behalf of The Institute of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists recommends the flu vaccine for all pregnant mothers regardless of gestation. ‘Women often say to us that they are 'healthy and never get sick'. In pregnancy however the immune system is not as strong as it normally is and pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu. Every year a number of  pregnant  women are admitted to hospital with complications of the flu which can be serious’.
 
This year, the seasonal (annual) flu vaccine protects against four common virus strains. The flu virus changes each year so this is why a new flu vaccine has to be given each year. If you are pregnant through two flu seasons, two flu vaccines, one in each season, may be needed.
 

The last thing an expectant-mum wants is to feel even more exhausted than she already does. Flu symptoms come on suddenly with a fever, muscle aches, headache and extreme tiredness. These symptoms disappear in one or two days without needing treatment. Serious side effects are very rare. It's important for you and your baby that you avoid having a fever. Take paracetamol if you start to develop a fever - it's safe to take while pregnant if you follow the directions. If you are worried that you might have the flu, visit your doctor or talk to your obstetrician as soon as possible. For  more information visit HSE.IE

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