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Taranaki DHB urges pregnant women to get free flu vaccine

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The flu season is proving particularly nasty this winter and Taranaki DHB is encouraging pregnant women and other vulnerable groups to get their free influenza (flu) vaccination this winter. Weekly drop-in sessions are held at Taranaki Base Hospital’s Antenatal Clinic on a Wednesday from 2pm to 3pm, where pregnant mothers can receive their free flu vaccination.

The flu vaccine is free for pregnant women, those aged 65 and over and children and adults with certain serious health conditions.

Taranaki DHB midwife, Sadie Jury knows first-hand the importance of getting vaccinated.

"I have been getting immunised each year since 2007, my father is immuno-compromised and so initially it was important to protect him. Since having children and qualifying as a midwife, it’s reinforced the importance of getting vaccinated.

"I’m regularly in close contact with pregnant women, so getting my annual vaccination and informing my pregnant mothers to get their free vaccinations is paramount.

"There are a range of changes that occur during pregnancy which can put pregnant women at higher risk. Being pregnant and getting the flu means women have an increased risk of pneumonia. New Zealand research shows that pregnant women are nearly five times more likely to be admitted to hospital when suffering from influenza than women who are not pregnant," said Sadie.

Anyone can carry the influenza virus and pass it on to others. Even if they appear healthy, they might be risking the lives of others around them as the virus can be passed on via contaminated surfaces or even in the air.

"The reality of this level of contagiousness is that there’s no real way to safe guard yourself, your baby and those around you other than to be vaccinated. It is highly effective in protecting not only pregnant mothers, but also the unborn and new born babies." Sadie added.

There are a number of common misconceptions about influenza vaccination; some may think that the vaccination will give them influenza but there is no live virus within the vaccine, so it cannot give you the flu.

The Influenza vaccine has been given to pregnant women since the 1960s and the World Health Organisation recommends influenza vaccination for pregnant women regardless of how far along in their pregnancy they are. It can also be given to women who are breastfeeding.

For further information about influenza and the associated risks, visit www.influenza.org.nz/ or www.fightflu.co.nz/.

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