Scottish mums-to-be urged to kick flu into touch

New mums are giving the '˜golden boot' to flu and backing a national vaccination campaign.

Saturday, 23rd January 2016, 7:00 pm
New mums were presented with tiny golden baby boots to highlight how they collectively kicked flu into touch by getting the flu vaccination when they were pregnant. From left, Sally Nisbet and daughter Lara and Hollie Lawson with son Theodore. (Picture by Fraser Band.)

Pregnant women are at greater risk of experiencing complications if they catch flu, including being more likely to deliver prematurely or even experience a miscarriage or stillbirth.

The flu vaccine offers pregnant women and their babies the best defence against the flu virus, with research showing that the vaccine can protect their baby for up to three months after the birth during the crucial early stage of life.

This week mums throughout the country who were vaccinated when they were pregnant were presented with tiny golden baby boots to highlight how they kick flu into touch.

Over two million eligible people in Scotland will be offered the vaccine this winter as part of the national flu immunisation programme.

One of the mums, Hollie Lawson, of St Andrews, said: ““During my pregnancy I had enough on my mind, and getting flu was not part of the plan. I decided early on in my pregnancy that I would much rather get vaccinated than be stressed out worrying about the consequences of flu.

“Getting the vaccine only took a few minutes, was pain free, and offered me the best defence against the virus. It was a stress-free experience and I would encourage others to consider getting the vaccine for peace of mind.”

Gillian Smith, director of the Royal College of Midwives Scotland, said: “We need to stress to pregnant women that flu is a really serious illness – it is not just a bad cold.

“It can hit hard and fast and have a serious impact on those expecting a baby. At worst, you could experience premature labour or a miscarriage, so we are encouraging all pregnant ladies to get the vaccination.

“If you’ve been pregnant before, remember that a healthy and flu-free pregnancy last time is no guarantee that you won’t catch flu this time. To make sure you get the maximum protection against the strains of flu circulating, you need to get the vaccine again.

“The flu vaccine is free to all expectant mothers in Scotland, is safe to have at any time during pregnancy, and it only takes a few minutes. Getting immunised against flu offers the best protection against the virus. It takes about 10 days to be protected against flu after getting the vaccine, so pregnant women are advised to get the vaccination as soon as possible.

“Over the last ten years, the flu vaccine has generally been a good match for the circulating strains of flu, and being vaccinated is the best way to help protect yourself against a virus which can cause serious illness. Even when the vaccine is not as well matched to the circulating flu viruses, if you do develop flu, symptoms may be less severe and you may be less likely to develop complications requiring you to see your GP or be admitted to hospital.”

To find out more about getting the vaccine during pregnancy, make an appointment with your GP or have a chat with your midwife, or visit Immunisation Scotland.