Pregnant women are being encouraged to take up their free flu and autumn COVID-19 vaccines being offered across the Black Country to protect themselves and their babies ahead of winter.
The Black Country Local Maternity and Neonatal System (BCLMNS) is backing this call and reminding women that vaccinations are offered across many hospital sites as part of their antenatal checks and appointments
Pregnancy weakens the body’s immune system which means pregnant women are at greater risk of serious flu and COVID-19 related complications, including early labour, low birth weight and even stillbirth.
The flu and autumn COVID-19 vaccine can be given at any stage during pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to the expected due date and are currently available at Walsall Manor Hospital, Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital and Russells Hall Hospital In Dudley for mums-to-be accessing Maternity Services. They will also be offered at Sandwell and City Hospitals too shortly. Community pop-up clinics are also available across the Black Country.
Charlotte Leo, Matron for Antenatal Services & Community Midwifery.at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said: “I’d urge mums-to-be to seriously consider having the vaccinations as their immune system is weakened when pregnant and this puts them at increased risk of severe illness and hospitalisation from flu and COVID-19.
“We also know that women who have the vaccines while pregnant pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives. It’s really important to have the facts to make an informed choice and Midwives are a trusted source of reliable information.”
Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board and Senior Responsible Officer for the Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) said: “Getting vaccinated is the best way to stay protected against the flu and COVID-19, which is particularly important if you’re pregnant.
“If you’ve been pregnant before, remember that a healthy flu and COVID-19-free pregnancy last time is no guarantee you won’t catch it this time. If you are pregnant, you are eligible for a free flu and autumn COVID-19 vaccination to protect both you and your baby against the viruses, so please do come forward as soon as you can.
“It’s natural to have questions about vaccines during pregnancy, so please discuss any worries you may have with your Midwife or other healthcare professional. They will be able to give you the facts to reassure you about the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines.”
COVID-19 vaccines can be booked online via the National Booking System https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/covid-19-services/covid-19-vaccination-services/book-covid-19-vaccination/ or by calling 119. Calls to 119 are free from mobiles and landlines and the booking service provides support in 200 different languages. Those who have difficulties communicating or hearing, or are a BSL user can use textphone 18001 or the NHS 119 British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter service
Flu vaccinations are also available at a range of community pharmacies.
Community pop-up clinics are also being hosted at a range of locations in the Black Country, with flu and autumn COVID-19 vaccines available on a walk-in basis.
To find your nearest pop-up clinic, visit the NHS Black Country ICB website here https://blackcountry.icb.nhs.uk/your-health/health-advice/vaccinations/pop-up