Expectant mums are being urged to get their flu jabs this festive season, as official figures reveal that 36 women have died from flu over the last three years in England.
The figures come from a national report in to maternal deaths called MBRRACE-UK, which showed that flu was the cause of death in 1 in 11 women who died during, or shortly after, their pregnancy between 2009 and 2012.
Flu is a debilitating illness for anyone, but pregnant women are at increased risk of serious complications and death from flu compared with other healthy adults.
It can also affect the unborn baby during pregnancy leading to stillbirth, prematurity and low birth weight.
Fiona Jorden, Public Health Consultant (South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw) at NHS England, said: “Pregnant women are at increased risk of serious illness if they catch flu, so it is concerning that only 44% of pregnant women have taken up the offer of the flu vaccination since the 2014 flu season began.
“Research shows that the jab is safe for mother and baby and can be given at any stage of pregnancy. The earlier you have the vaccine the better as it means you will be protected for the whole winter.
““Flu is more than having a bunged up nose and feeling under the weather. It’s an illness that can take you out of action for weeks, which is the last thing that anyone needs in the run up to Christmas.
“It’s vital that all pregnant women contact their GP or participating pharmacy today to book your appointment or contact your midwife to discuss this further.”
NHS England in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw are also asking parents of children who were aged two, three or four years old on September 1 2014 to get a free flu nasal spray vaccine for their child.