This autumn and winter COVID-19 boosters and flu vaccinations are critical to protecting lives, livelihoods, and the NHS.
Why it’s important
You must get your flu and COVID-19 booster vaccine this year, as more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, if you were to have COVID-19 and flu at the same time, research shows that you are more likely to be seriously ill.
There is good evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
If you have flu while you're pregnant, it could cause your baby to be born prematurely or have a low birthweight, and may even lead to stillbirth or death.
One in five* COVID-19 patients receiving ECMO therapy (used when the lungs are too damaged to use a ventilator), is in an unvaccinated pregnant women.
It's recommended that all pregnant women have the flu and COVID-19 vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they're at.
Is the flu vaccine safe in pregnancy
Yes. Studies have shown that it's safe to have the flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date.
Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.
It's safe for women who are breastfeeding to have the vaccine.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe during pregnancy
Evidence so far reviewed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UK regulatory agency responsible for licencing medicines including vaccines, has raised no concerns for safety in pregnancy.
The vaccine does not contain live SARS-CoV-2 virus and therefore cannot cause COVID-19 infection to a pregnant woman or in the baby. Some COVID-19 vaccines contain a different harmless virus to help deliver the vaccine – whilst this virus is live, it cannot reproduce and so will not cause infection in a pregnant woman or the baby, to learn more click here.To learn more about the flu vaccine during pregnancy visit: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/flu-jab/
When should I have the flu vaccine?
The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating. If you've missed this time, you can have the flu vaccine later in the winter although it's best to get it earlier.
Do not worry if you find that you're pregnant later in the flu season – you can have the vaccine then if you have not already had it.
How do I get the flu vaccine if I am pregnant?
Contact your midwife or GP surgery to find out where you can get the flu vaccine. It's a good idea to get vaccinated as soon as possible after the vaccine becomes available in September.
In some areas, midwives can give the flu vaccine at the antenatal clinic. In others, you will need an appointment at a GP surgery.
Some community pharmacies now offer the flu vaccine on the NHS.
I had the flu jab last year, do I need it again?
Yes, because the viruses that cause flu change every year. This means the flu (and the vaccine) this year may be different from last year.
If you had the flu vaccine last year, either because you were pregnant or because you're in a vulnerable group, you need to have it again this year.
Find out more about how the flu vaccine works.
*Source: NHS England October 2021