It’s recommended that all pregnant women have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they’re at.
Pregnancy alters how the body handles infections such as flu, leaving women at a greater risk of complications and increasing the chances of pregnant women and their babies needing intensive care.
With social mixing and social contact returning towards pre-pandemic norms, it’s expected there will be more cases of flu and it will co-circulate alongside COVID-19.
Jenny Hughes, Chief Midwife in the South East of England, said:
“I encourage all pregnant women to have the flu and COVID-19 vaccine this winter to protect themselves and their babies from complications caused by the viruses.
“It is possible to be infected with flu and COVID-19 at the same time and this could make pregnant women seriously ill.
“I want to reassure women that there are real-life results which demonstrate the safety of both vaccines, for both you and your baby.”
Pregnant women benefit from the flu vaccine because it can:
- reduce their risk of serious complications, such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy
- reduce the risk of miscarriage or having a baby born too soon or with a low birth weight
- help protect their baby, who will continue to have some immunity to flu during the first few months of their life
- reduce the chance of the mother passing infection to her new baby
The flu vaccine does not work well in babies under 6 months of age so it is not recommended. This is another reason why it is so important that pregnant women have the vaccination – they will pass on some immunity to their baby that will protect them during the early months of their life.
If you’re pregnant, you can get the free flu vaccine from your GP, pharmacist or through your maternity service.
You can have the flu jab at the same time as the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine, but do not delay your flu jab just so you can have both at the same time.
Do not worry if you find that you’re pregnant later in the flu season – you can have the vaccine then if you have not already had it.
For more information and resources visit our Flu Vaccination webpage.