As you may be aware the PHA, during the ‘Bonding before Birth’ Infant Mental Health event, made an appeal for all in a position to do so to actively encourage and support pregnant women to receive their Covid, Flu and Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines. (The Covid autumn booster and flu vaccination programme began in September 2023 and PHA are encouraging all eligible groups to avail of this opportunity when called for vaccine.) Information on those eligible, where to access vaccines and vaccination programmes can be found on the PHA website and also on NI Direct. During pregnancy, changes take place in your immune system which may make you more susceptible to some infections. Vaccination can help prevent disease or make the illness less serious. PHA are encouraging pregnant women to take up the opportunity of all vaccines available to them and we are also encouraging staff to promote uptake amongst those you are working closely with. Vaccinations are available to pregnant women include Pertussis (whooping cough), flu and COVID-19.
All women who are 16 weeks pregnant or more will be offered the whooping cough vaccine. The vaccine will be offered each time you become pregnant.
Flu is a highly infectious virus that occurs every year especially over the winter. Pregnant women are more likely to develop serious complications such as pneumonia which may require hospitalisation. Taking the flu vaccine during pregnancy allows antibodies to pass from you to your baby, protecting you both. Young babies are more at risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch flu because their immune system is not fully developed and they are too young to be offered the flu vaccine. If you become pregnant later in the winter, you should be offered a flu vaccine as soon as you know you are pregnant.
COVID-19 can cause severe illness in pregnancy, potentially leading to hospital admission or premature birth. Pregnant women have been identified as a clinical risk group within the COVID-19 vaccination programme. PHA encourage all pregnant women to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. Even if you have already had one or two doses and a booster of COVID-19 vaccine, or have had the virus, you should have a further booster vaccination. This will help to keep you and your baby safe, especially over the winter months when infection rates are expected to increase.
The COVID-19 vaccine is strongly recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives.
If you have any queries, further information is available on PHA website and NI Direct. You can also contact PHA on email@example.com if you have any further questions. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.