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Public Health Wales is urging pregnant women to have their flu vaccine

Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

Public Health Wales (PHW) is urging all pregnant women to have their free flu vaccine as research shows they are seven times more likely to die from flu than a woman who is not pregnant.

A woman who catches flu during pregnancy is at higher risk of delivering her baby early and the risk of stillbirth is also increased.

Pregnant women are vulnerable to infection and are not able to fight off viruses like flu as well as other people.

PHW says the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent flu and offers protection to both the mum-to-be and her unborn baby. The NHS flu vaccine is available free to all pregnant women in Wales at their GP surgery or community pharmacy.

Officials say the flu vaccine is safe during all stages of pregnancy, and not only helps protect women against catching flu, but can also help protect their unborn child for up to six months after birth.

Credit: Public Health Wales

Full time mum Liz Dykes lives near New Quay with her husband and two children. A keen walker, she often treks the coastal path which is on her doorstep and last year she competed in the Welsh Three Peaks challenge with a group of friends.

I am not a fan of needles, and when I was pregnant with my firstborn in 2007, I refused the flu vaccine. I didn’t realise how serious flu can be during pregnancy.

But during my pregnancy, I became ill with flu. I was admitted to hospital for a week, and was put in a special isolation room. They thought at one point that I would need an emergency caesarean-section at 33 weeks, which would have been distressing for me and potentially dangerous for the baby.

I was upset, thinking about the dangerous situation my baby and I were now in – I deeply regretted my decision to not have the flu jab.

Having gone through that – which luckily had a happy ending, with my baby being delivered at full term - I then decided to be more open-minded.

It could have been so much worse, and I was lucky to be given a second chance to make a different choice because next time around, I thought I may not be quite so lucky – it was a warning.

– Liz Dykes