Doctors say, if you’re pregnant or are a young child, you need the free flu vaccine to protect your health

Bedfordshire doctors are urging more pregnant women and young children to get their free flu vaccine as soon as possible.

Women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant are eligible for a free flu jab. Children between the ages of two and nine years are also be eligible and will receive a free flu nasal spray.

Last winter, less than half of the pregnant women in Bedfordshire received the flu jab.

Dr Dayo Kuku, GP and Respiratory Clinical Lead at Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“We want more pregnant women to be protected by the flu vaccine this winter. Pregnant women are less able to fight off infections and therefore they are more likely to become seriously ill if they contract the flu virus.

“The best protection against flu is to have the vaccine, which is safe at all stages of pregnancy. Even if you’ve had the flu jab before, it’s important to get it again because the vaccine changes to match the type of virus that is circulating.”

Flu can cause complications

Pregnant women and children are more at risk of developing serious complications such as: pneumonia, meningitis, severe ear infections and tonsillitis.

In pregnant women flu may cause miscarriage, premature birth and even stillbirth. Taking the flu vaccine while pregnant can protect babies for several months after they are born, which is important as babies cannot receive the flu vaccine under the age of six months of age.

Health officials say that for the best protection the flu vaccines should be taken early, ideally between September and November.

Dr Chirag Bakhai, a GP and Clinical Director at Luton Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“It is really important to protect young children and babies against the flu as they are more vulnerable to developing serious complications.

“I would urge all pregnant women, and parents of young children to take up the offer of the free vaccination.”

The vaccination does not give you flu

The flu vaccination does not give you the flu, but some people may experience minor symptoms afterwards, as with other vaccinations.

For more information about how to get a free flu vaccine if you are pregnant, contact your midwife or GP.

Local doctors’ surgeries are already taking bookings for vaccination clinics for patients who are at risk from seasonal flu.

For more information about flu and the flu vaccination please visit the NHS website:

Flu vaccine information

Flu vaccine information Q&A