Pregnant women are being urged to protect themselves and their unborn baby this winter and get a flu jab.

Health professionals say that the virus increases the risk of complications during pregnancy including miscarriage and and premature birth.

The NHS says the jab is not harmful, can be administered from the first few weeks of pregnancy right up to the due date, and offers the best protection for mum and baby.

Denise Lightfoot, consultant midwife at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said:

“All pregnant women should make every effort to have the flu vaccination during their pregnancy. It’s important to recognise that significant risks exist to both mother to be and unborn child if the virus is contracted during pregnancy. Complications are reduced by having a simple vaccination.

“Flu is highly infectious and easily spread from person to person. The symptoms, which can come on very quickly, included fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles and extreme tiredness.

"There is good evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy which is why I would urge all pregnant woman to take up the offer of getting their free flu jab.”

Flu can make healthy people feel very poorly for up to a fortnight.

According to the NHS, the symptoms of flu are:

  • A sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above

  • An aching body

  • Feeling tired or exhausted

  • A dry cough

  • A sore throat

  • A headache

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Loss of appetite

  • Diarrhoea or tummy pain

  • Feeling sick and being sick

  • The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.

The vaccination can be obtained from GPs, maternity services, or pharmacies.

More information can be found on the NHS website: