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Thursday 8 December 2016

'Mums-to-be at risk without flu jab', says medic

Brid Stack with baby Pearse
Brid Stack with baby Pearse

A leading medic has warned pregnant women they are putting themselves and their babies at a greater risk if they fail to get the flu jab.

Dr Maeve Eogan, an obstetrician in the Rotunda Hospital, said the virus can be very serious for mothers-to-be who, because of pregnancy, are more vulnerable to developing life-threatening complications.

Up to 35 of the 61 pregnant women attending the inner-city hospital last year who contracted the flu ended up critically ill and had to be rushed to the high dependency unit.

A number of the women then had to be transferred to the intensive care unit of the Mater Hospital, where they gave birth to their babies.

A study showed just half of pregnant women are getting the flu jab and others are either underestimating the risk or are afraid of harming their baby.

Complications

Dr Eogan stressed that the vaccine is safe to get at any stage of pregnancy and will not have any negative effect on the woman or her unborn baby.

A study of maternal deaths across Ireland between 2009 and 2012 found one in 11 were due to complications from flu, she told a conference in the Rotunda yesterday.

"Women regard it as a benign condition but pregnancy leaves them less well able to cope with the flu," she said.

The HSE is not giving hospitals the funding to give the women the flu vaccine during their antenatal visits, which is "crazy", she added.

Brid Stack (32), from Walkinstown in Dublin, told how she spent five days in the high dependency unit of the Rotunda last year when she contracted the flu while pregnant with her son Pearse.

"I don't know why I did not get the flu vaccine. I suppose I thought I was young and could fight it. But if I get pregnant again I will definitely have the flu vaccine," she said.

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