MI am pregnant and about to have my vaccination for pertussis. My GP recommended that I have the flu vaccine also while I am there. I am not afraid of vaccines but before I do, I have a couple of questions. Firstly, is it true that the flu vaccine is not very accurate as there are so many different strains of flu? Secondly, if there are different vaccines, can I be assured that all of them are safe? Thirdly, can you explain briefly what pertussis is, and how common is the
virus — if I don’t get it, will my baby be at a real risk? any vaccines are safe to give in pregnancy and some are actually recommended. You specifically asked about the flu and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines. These are both recommend in pregnancy. Flu can be especially serious in pregnancy. Complications for mom and baby include pre-term labour, small for gestational age, hospitalisation and, rarely, death. Flu vaccination has been given to pregnant women around the world for many years and is considered safe at any stage of pregnancy.
Flu is estimated to kill from 250,000 to 500,000 people worldwide every year. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent infection. The vaccine is very safe, has been used for over 60 years and given to millions of people worldwide. Contrary to popular myth, you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine.
Different strains of influenza circulate in different years. More than 100 national influenza centres in over 100 countries conduct year-round surveillance of circulating viruses. This involves receiving and testing thousands of influenza virus samples from patients.
Twice a year, the World Health Organization (WHO) organises a consultation with those who collate the data. They review the results of surveillance, laboratory, and clinical studies, and the availability of vaccine viruses and make recommendations on the composition of the influenza vaccine. This amalgamation of data makes it unlikely that a circulating strain will be missed.
Also, the annual vaccine contains between two and three strains of flu thus covering several possible virus outbreaks. Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce flu complications by 70pc to 90pc in healthy people. In the elderly, it reduced the risk of serious illness by 60pc, and death by 80pc. Babies born to moms who were