Pregnant Western Isles women urged to get the flu jab

Pregnant women in the Western Isles are being strongly urged by the local health service to take up the offer of the seasonal flu jab.

The dominant flu strain in this 2010/2011 flu season is Influenza A H1N1v and pregnant women are one of the groups most susceptible to severe illness if infected. For this reason, it is important that all pregnant and recently postnatal women contact their GP to make an appointment to get the flu vaccine.

Both national and local figures show that the vaccine uptake rate has improved amongst pregnant women who have no other risk factors. Locally around 33 per cent of this group have taken up the offer of vaccination. The local rate for pregnant women within a risk group is now at 25 per cent.

All pregnant women in the Western Isles should have already received information on the importance of taking the flu jab, and local midwives discuss the importance of having the vaccination with pregnant women at routine antenatal appointments. Pregnant women will continue to be encouraged to take the flu jab by health professionals.

NHS Western Isles Medical Director Dr Jim Ward said: “Vaccination is the most important way for those at greater risk to protect themselves from flu and this includes pregnant women and new mothers.

“Midwives, Obstetricians and GPs in the Western Isles are continuing to encourage pregnant women and those others in the ‘at risk’ groups to take the trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine. You should have the vaccine irrespective of whether you have already received the ‘swine flu’ vaccine last year.”

Those in the ‘at risk’ groups are as follows:

* Those aged 65 and over

* Anyone under the age of 65 with a medical condition that puts them in an “at risk” group – including serious breathing problems; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; diabetes; serious heart conditions

* Pregnant women

* NHS healthcare staff

* Unpaid carers