Pregnant women are urged to have the flu jab
A mother who almost lost her unborn baby to flu has urged other pregnant women to get vaccinated.
Devon woman Hayley Sycamore caught flu when she was eight months pregnant. She and her daughter Naomi nearly died as a result.
Mrs Sycamore deteriorated quickly and contracted pneumonia. As a result, Naomi was born prematurely.
This winter she and husband Steve are encouraging pregnant women to have the flu vaccine.
Mrs Sycamore said she knew that being pregnant meant she was at high risk of developing illness and when she first started to experience the symptoms of flu, she just took herself to bed.
She had not anticipated quite how poorly she could become and found herself deteriorating very quickly.
“Naomi was born prematurely at 35 weeks, just before Christmas, following emergency surgery,” she said. “I ended up on an intensive care unit and she was on a ventilator.”
Her husband Steve Sycamore said: “When you are young and generally fit and healthy, you think you are indestructible, but one single bug turns into serious illness and it all goes to hell.
“I heard the words from the consultant, ‘We need to get the baby out and they might both live’.
“Nobody should go through what we did. It was 10 years ago but I remember the trauma very clearly. We are still recovering from the psychological effects of the whole experience even though everyone is home and healthy.
“My advice to any mums-tobe is just have the jab and hopefully you never have to go through what we did.”
Emma Fuell, midwife at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The negative effects of contracting influenza in pregnancy cannot be underestimated. Not only can it make you very ill, but in the worst-case situations it can result in very serious res- piratory problems, a prolonged hospital stay, or even death.
“Should the unborn baby contract the flu virus this can lead to growth problems, premature birth and even stillbirth.”
Dr Sarah Ogilvie, public health consultant at Plymouth City Council, said: “Flu can be really serious. We particularly worry about the very young, the elderly, people with underlying health conditions, and pregnant women as they are at greater risk of the complications of flu.
“Around a third of deaths are in previously healthy people.”
Women are advised to have the flu vaccine regardless of the stage of pregnancy they have reached.
The vaccine is safe at any stage of pregnancy from conception onwards.
The injected flu vaccine given to adults contains inactivated flu viruses, so cannot give you flu.
Your arm may feel a bit sore where you were injected, and some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards. Other reactions are very rare.
Steve and Hayley Sycamore. Hayley caught flu and both she and her daughter Naomi nearly died as a result