Pregnant? Then get your flu shot

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 12:58 18/03/2014

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Pregnant women are among those being urged to claim their free vaccination before the influenza season.

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board dietician and mother-to-be Nicole McHaffie said she was immunised against flu every year.

"I did not hesitate to be immunised against influenza as this will give me and my unborn baby protection, and it will also protect my baby when it's born later this year."

Chief medical officer Nick Baker said pregnant women were more likely to be admitted to hospital suffering influenza as changes in their immune system, heart and lungs made them more prone to severe illness.

He said pregnant women with the flu also had a greater chance of having serious problems with their unborn baby, such as premature labour and delivery.

Influenza vaccine has been used for many years in pregnant women with no safety concerns, and can be given in any trimester, he said.

Associate director of midwifery Debbie Fisher said she wanted to make it as easy as possible for all pregnant women to be vaccinated as their immunity was passed on to their babies

Those who wanted a flu shot could get a referral from their midwives for free. She hoped women's partners would help encourage them to get the shot done.

"Mums will take folic acid, they'll eat healthy and they'll try to do everything possible to keep healthy for their baby and immunisations are a part of that."

Flu vaccines are free from a doctor or nurse until the end of July for New Zealand citizens who are at high risk of complications.

The list of those who qualify includes pregnant women, people aged 65 and over and those with long-term health conditions such as diabetes and asthma.

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- Nelson

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