Information for pregnant women

The Royal College of Midwives and Scotland’s Chief Medical and Chief Nursing Officers recommend that all pregnant women should have the flu vaccine, even if you’ve had it before, or if this isn’t your first baby. After all, there’s enough to be thinking about when you’re pregnant without worrying about catching the flu.

Over the last ten years, the flu vaccine has generally been a good match for the circulating strains of flu so you can be confident being vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against a virus which can cause serious illness. Even when it is not as well matched, 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 being admitted to hospital. 

Five reasons to get the vaccine: 

1. Every year in Scotland, a number of pregnant women will get flu, some of whom will require hospitalisation and intensive care treatment.

2. Getting the flu vaccine can help protect you and your developing baby against flu.

3. It contains no live viruses, so it can't give you flu.

4. It’s safe for your baby, and for you at any stage of your pregnancy.

5. Pregnant women are more at risk of flu-related complications and need extra protection.

Questions and answers:

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Who is eligible? 

Pregnant women in Scotland are eligible for the flu vaccine. The vaccine helps to protect your baby and you against this year’s flu virus. Even if you’ve had a flu vaccine in the past, you need to get protected again this year because the virus changes constantly and your immunity reduces over time.

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

The vaccine contains no live viruses so it can’t give you flu, but it can stop you catching it. It’s quick, safe and free in Scotland if you’re pregnant.

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Why is the flu vaccine recommended for pregnant women? 

Flu is much more than a bad cold. Pregnant women are particularly at risk because your immune system is weakened. This means flu can have more of an impact, putting you and your developing baby at risk of complications such as stillbirth, lowbirth weight and early labour.

Flu is much more than a bad cold. Even healthy people with flu can feel very unwell. In the most serious cases, flu can bring on other complications, which can result in death.

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How does the flu vaccine work? 

The vaccine takes around 10 days to work and will protect you against this year’s flu. You have to get immunised annually because the virus changes constantly and your immunity reduces over time. 

Last year's vaccine won’t necessarily protect you from this year’s flu viruses. It’s important to remember that the flu vaccine can’t give you flu, but can stop you catching it.

For the maximum protection possible, make sure you get immunised every year.

It won’t make you infectious, so it’s safe to carry on with your normal duties once you’ve been immunised.

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Where can I get the flu immunisation? 

The flu vaccine is available from October to March. The earlier you get it, the less likely it is that you will get flu. Simply contact your GP practice to make an appointment. It only takes a few minutes to get immunised and can help keep your baby and you in the best possible health over the winter.

Contact your GP practice today to make an appointment. 

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Is the vaccine safe?

The Scottish Government has no safety concerns about the vaccines used in the seasonal flu programme. As with all medicines used in Scotland, the influenza vaccines undergo rigorous safety testing by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and no new concerns were reported. The MHRA continues to monitor the safety of these vaccines.

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Last reviewed on 19 September 2016

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