Flu jab for pregnant women

The NHS in Coventry and Warwickshire has launched its annual seasonal flu vaccination campaign. Entitled Flu-rrggh, the campaign is encouraging people who are at risk of seasonal flu to protect themselves from flu by getting their free flu jabs.

Flu-rrggh is that horrible, lurgy feeling that comes with flu and being vaccinated offers the best protection against catching flu and feeling like this.

This year, for the first time, the NHS will offer all pregnant women the seasonal flu vaccination. This is because it protects against the H1N1 (swine flu) that will still be circulating this winter, and pregnant women who catch this strain are at an increased risk of severe flu-related hospital admissions.

Everyone aged 65 and over is routinely offered the jab, as are people under 65 with long-term conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart conditions or serious kidney or liver diseases. People in these at-risk groups will usually be contacted by their GP if they are eligible for the jab.

John Linnane, Director of Public Health at NHS Warwickshire said: "We encourage anyone eligible to take advantage of the free flu jab this winter. Around 15 million people in the UK have the seasonal flu vaccination, which must be administered every year as it is altered to match the flu strains in circulation. It is safe and quick and the best protection against seasonal flu, which can hit people over 65 and those with long-term conditions hard."

John Forde, Consultant in Public Health for NHS Coventry added: "Every year in England and Wales there are approximately 8,000 seasonal-flu related deaths. These deaths are avoidable. Catching seasonal flu can have a more severe and serious impact on people with long-term conditions so we are encouraging them this year to protect themselves and others by getting their flu jab."

The best way to avoid flu is to get immunised, but in addition, people can protect themselves be practicing good hand hygiene with the 'catch it, bin it, kill it' technique. This means carrying tissues, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, disposing of the tissues after one use, and cleaning hands as soon as possible after with soap and water or an alcohol hand gel.

For more information, visit www.flu-rrggh.info

Members of the public who are eligible for the vaccination should contact their GP to arrange for their free flu jab.