Protect our very youngest from flu this Winter

Pregnant women and those who care for young children are being reminded that free flu vaccinations are available from their GP, pharmacist or midwife this year.

As part of this year’s record flu immunisation campaign, the flu vaccine is available for the first time ever to under-2s who have health conditions such as severe asthma, which could make them more vulnerable to the virus.

This is in addition to vaccination for children aged two and three, and for pregnant women, who can get the jab at any time during pregnancy and at any point during flu season.

Emma McCartney, Midwife and Professional Midwifery Advocate for The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said: “Flu is a very serious illness that can have devastating complications for your baby if you catch it while you are pregnant, including low birth weight and an increased risk of birth defects. It’s also important to remember that you’re more vulnerable to getting very ill with flu at this time too, as your immune system is concentrating on keeping baby safe.

“The good news is that the flu jab protects you and your baby from the harmful effects of flu, and that’s why we offer it for free to all expectant mums. It’s safe to have at any time during your pregnancy and it’s available right through flu season – so even if you find out you’re pregnant in January, please talk to your GP, pharmacist or midwife and get protected right away.”

A video of Emma talking about the importance of vaccination in pregnancy can be viewed below.

Sally Roberts, Chief Nurse for the Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “It’s really important that women and family members who are asked to get a flu vaccination, do so. If you have any worries at all, please talk to your midwife so you can be sure you have all the information you need to make an informed choice. If you have been asked to book a vaccination please do so.”

Any child who was aged two or three on 31 August 2020 is also eligible for a free flu vaccine, which is administered by a quick and simple nasal spray. As well as being more vulnerable to the harmful effects of flu, very young children tend to mix more with others and be more prone to passing on the virus, so vaccinating your child can help protect your wider family.

Every mother and child who is eligible should receive a flu clinic invitation from their GP, but anyone who is unsure if they qualify can talk to their GP or community pharmacist.