Health leaders across Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes are urging pregnant women and young children to get their free flu vaccine as soon as possible.

Young pregnant woman receiving injection from medical assistant in clinic

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant then you will be eligible for a free flu vaccine. Children between the ages of two and nine years will also be eligible and will receive a free flu nasal spray.

For the best protection flu vaccines should be taken early, ideally between September and November. Pregnant women and children are more at risk of developing serious complications such as: pneumonia, meningitis, severe ear infections and tonsillitis. In pregnant women it may cause miscarriage, premature birth and even stillbirth. Taking the flu vaccine while pregnant will also protect babies for several months after they are born, which is important as new-borns cannot receive the flu vaccine before six months old.

Councillor Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Health at Central Bedfordshire Council said: “It is really important to protect children and babies against the flu as they are more vulnerable to developing serious complications. The flu vaccination is completely free and as well as protecting your child it will also help prevent the spread of flu to other vulnerable members of the community.”

For more information about how to get a free flu vaccine contact your local GP, midwife or your community pharmacy. Children aged four to nine years old will receive their vaccine at school by a qualified nursing team if permission has been given by their parents.

The flu vaccination does not give you the flu but some people may experience minor symptoms afterwards, as with other vaccinations.

For more information about flu and the flu vaccination please visit the NHS choices website: