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Flu jab for mums-to-be

25th October 2006

01072006_Vaccination1.jpgExperts are calling for pregnant women to be given the flu vaccine, to protect them and their unborn babies.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) found that pregnant women were at an increased risk of both morbidity and mortality from seasonal flu, especially in the later stages of their pregnancy.

It is now recommending to ministers that the jab should be given after three and six-months as part of the seasonal vaccination programme.

Before making its recommendations, the committee considered the safety of the vaccine by looking at studies in America where pregnant women routinely receive the jab, and found their was a small risk of side-effects.

A separate study published recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology found a link between influenza during pregnancy and the risk of the unborn baby later developing childhood leukaemia.

Experts have said the study was too small to provide meaningful conclusions.

Influenza kills several thousand people each year in the UK, while around one in ten people will catch it. Pregnant women are known to be more at risk.

The committee has also advised people with neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis or who have suffered a stroke receive the vaccine.

Ministers will now consider the recommendations.

If approved, the increase in demand for the flu vaccine could have consequences on supply. In recent years shortages mean those already eligible, which includes those with chronic diseases and the over 65s, may be missing out.



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