Health chiefs are urging pregnant women in Brighton and Hove to protect themselves and their children by having a free flu jab.
Those who don’t have the vaccine increase the risk of their unborn baby becoming ill, according to Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The CCG said: “Pregnant women across Brighton and Hove are being urged to get the free flu vaccination now to protect themselves and their children from getting ill this winter.
“Last year around 6 in 10 pregnant women in Brighton and Hove missed out on their free flu jab leaving them vulnerable to catching the flu, which can be dangerous for those at risk of serious health complications, including pregnant women.
“This is because pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system, which could cause complications for pregnant women as they are less able to fight off infections, increasing the risk of them and their unborn baby becoming ill.
“Even for those who have had the flu vaccination before, it’s important to get it again because the type of virus in circulation changes every year, so the vaccine changes too.
“It is safe for both pregnant and breastfeeding women and actually passes some protection on to babies in the first few months of life.
“Winter is set to be extremely difficult for the NHS across the country, especially on A&E (accident and emergency) departments and local GP surgeries as they cope with the annual rise in numbers of people seeking treatment.
“Local doctors believe pressure on health services could be significantly reduced if those eligible take up the opportunity to get their free jab.”
Allison Cannon, the chief nurse officer for the CCGs across Sussex, said: “The flu vaccination is the best protection against flu.
“It’s safe during any stage in pregnancy, from the first few weeks through to the woman’s due date and doesn’t carry any risks for mother or baby.
“By getting protected now you will also help ease pressure on local health services, freeing them up to care for those most in need.
“The flu jab is painless and over in seconds – contact your GP or pharmacist to get the flu jab.”