Influenza – flu – is a highly infectious and potentially serious illness caused by influenza viruses. Each year the make-up of the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the influenza viruses that the World Health Organization decide are most likely to be circulating in the coming winter.
Regular immunisation (vaccination) is given free of charge to the following at-risk people, to protect them from seasonal flu:
It is recommended that all pregnant women should have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they're in. This is because there is good evidence that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu, particularly from the H1N1 strain.
Studies have shown that the flu vaccine can be safely and effectively given during any trimester of pregnancy. The vaccine does not carry risks for either the mother or baby. In fact, studies have shown that mothers who have had the vaccine while pregnant pass some protection to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.
Children are vaccinated routinely under the UK vaccination schedule. It is also available on the NHS for the following risk groups:
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