Pregnant women urged to get flu vaccine

ONLY one in five pregnant women in NSW are getting the free influenza vaccination recommended by health experts, says a recent survey.

Research conducted by MotherSafe — a statewide, free counselling service for pregnant women and healthcare providers — has found only 22 per cent of the 320 pregnant women surveyed were getting the jab.

It found only 42 per cent of the pregnant women recalled their doctor advising them to receive the flu vaccine and only half went on to get the shot.

MotherSafe director Debra Kennedy said the research confirmed that people often had fears about exposure during pregnancy.

She said many people mistakenly believed the flu vaccine would make them sick. 

“It’s not a live vaccine, which causes recipients to experience disease symptoms, but people’s fears aren’t always easy to undo,” Dr Kennedy said.

‘‘The flu vaccine is safe at any time during pregnancy.

‘‘It also offers immunity to the newborn baby for six months after birth.

‘‘Pregnant women are at high risk of severe consequences of influenza infection.

‘‘ While flu during pregnancy does not cause birth defects, it can cause serious outcomes.

“The mum can get very sick and could end up in hospital with very severe respiratory disease. 

“You could have a very sick mother and a baby born prematurely, which can have its own risks.”

The vaccination is free as part of the federal government’s Immunise Australia Program.

The research by MotherSafe will be presented at the International Conference of the Organisation of Teratogen Information Specialists in the USA this month.

MotherSafe can be contacted on 93826539 (from Sydney metropolitan area) or 1800647848 (from non-metropolitan areas).

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