Pregnant women urged to get flu vaccine to avoid “serious” health risks

PREGNANT women are being urged to take up the flu vaccine amid fears that too many are disregarding the danger they could face if infected.

A leading doctor at NHS Tower Hamlets has warn that health risks are far more serious for expectant mums than other groups and they should contact their GP to get inoculated “as soon as possible”.

The warning came as a 32-year-old Suffolk woman was pronounced dead two weeks after giving birth as a result of swine flu.

The family of Sarah Applin, who died on Tuesday, are now urging other expectant mums to get vaccinated.

Dr Theodora Kalentzi, NHS Tower Hamlets’s deputy medical director, said: “Pregnant women are particularly at risk and the health risks posed by flu are far more serious for them.

“The vaccine has been thoroughly tested and the evidence suggests that the flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women and there is no evidence of this type of vaccine doing any harm at all during pregnancy.”

Flu cases in Tower Hamlets are among the highest in London, the latest figures show.

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The borough is among 13 in London to have more than 100 people per 100,000 suffering from “flu-like illness”, according to the Health Protection Agency.

In the week commencing December 20, there were 212 flu cases recorded.

That makes Tower Hamlets among only eight boroughs to have more recorded more than 200 cases that week – the latest for which figures are available.

As of mid-December 2010, 67 per cent of over 65s and 43 per cent of under 65s in at risks groups were vaccinated across London.

Those figures are line with most years.

People at risk include those with chronic heart, lung and metabolic disorders, kidney problems, a lowered immune system and pregnant women.

This year’s flu jab has been designed to protect against three types of flu, including swine flu.

There have been reports of GPs running out of vaccine supplies and having to get them from neighbouring surgeries.

NHS Tower Hamlets said it had plenty of supplies to inoculate the elderly and those at risk.

During the course of the week, The Royal London hospital, in Whitechapel Road said it had not seen an increase in flu cases.

It did, however, bring in a strict two visitors per patient policy to restrict the spread of the illness.

It refused to say how many of its intensive care beds were taken up by flu sufferers.

Have you been affected by swine flu in recent weeks? If you are a pregnant woman, are you fearful about the vaccine? If so please leave a comment.