The number of cases of swine flu is on the increase once again. This week many GP practices are also beginning their H1N1 (swine flu) vaccination programme, initially targeting those considered most at risk, including pregnant women.
As I wrote in my Blog “Swine Flu and Expecting Mums” in August 2009 see www.makingtimeforyourhealth.blogspot.com, pregnant women are more susceptible to the swine flu virus. The data is clear - pregnant women are up to 10 times more likely to suffer serious complications as a result of catching swine flu and 5-30% of worldwide deaths from swine flu have been young, healthy, pregnant women, according to the World Health Organisation But how safe is H1N1 vaccination during pregnancy? In short, very safe. Get vaccinated as soon as possible and protect yourself and your unborn baby.
Many people are worried that the vaccine has been rushed through and not properly tested, but this is not true. Drug companies have been preparing a vaccine for pandemic flu for years and the basic vaccine for this strain of flu is known to be very safe.
The H1N1 vaccine has undergone all the safety checks and clinical trials already and the European Medicines Agency has given a clear recommendation that the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine can be given safely to pregnant women. Only one dose of vaccine is required to produce an adequate immune response that will protect the vast majority of women against swine flu. As a frontline health worker I am also offered the vaccination, which I had this week. Fiona, my wife, who is also a GP, had our first baby girl last week, and is planning to get herself vaccinated as soon as she is invited by her GP. The vaccine will not only protect her, but also preventing her from passing on any infection to our newborn.
The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr Abu-Talib Chinwala BM MRCGP and not of any organisation he works for