Pregnancy and the flu

Pregnancy and the flu

Influenza (Flu) is a highly infectious disease caused by the influenza virus with symptoms including fever, chills, headaches, fatigue; and joint or muscle aches that come on rapidly.                                                                                                                                                                When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the flu virus is spread in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets can be breathed in by other people or picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed.

Pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. Getting flu during pregnancy can also lead to an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth or having a low weight baby.                                                                                                          One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia. Other less common complications include otitis media (infection of the middle ear), sepsis (a blood infection that causes a severe drop in blood pressure), meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord) and encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain).

The best way of protecting you and your baby against flu is to have the vaccine, preferably before the flu season starts. The flu vaccine is safe during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date and does not carry risks for either mum or baby. It will help protect your baby and provide some immunity to flu during the first few months of its life; it is also safe for women who are breastfeeding.

You can also protect yourself by avoiding prolonged or close contact with people who have flu symptoms and by washing your hands often with soap and water or a sanitizer gel.

The Flu Vaccine can be obtained from the Primary Care Centre (Blood Clinic) on weekdays between 1:30 -3:30pm. If you have not previously received the vaccine, you will need to make an appointment with your GP who will refer you to the vaccination clinic.

Flu viruses can change every year; therefore, people need to be vaccinated annually.