‘It’s more important than ever’: Whittington midwife backs campaign to make sure pregnant women get flu jab

Katie Aziz, a specialist midwife at the Whittington Hospital. Picture: NHS England and Improvement

Katie Aziz, a specialist midwife at the Whittington Hospital. - Credit: NHS England and Improvement

Away from excitement about the coronavirus vaccines, medics in north London are desperately urging pregnant women in particular to get the seasonal flu jab. 

Cllr Pat Callaghan. Picture: Camden Council

Cllr Pat Callaghan. Picture: Camden Council - Credit: Archant

Whittington Hospital midwife Kate Aziz is among those encouraging expectant mums to get the more well-known flu jab as part of a London-wide campaign to fight the “double threat” of coronavirus and seasonal flu this winter. Public Health England data reveals that four out of five pregnant women have not had the flu jab this year.

Katie, a midwife and a vaccine specialist at the Whittington, said the jab is vital.

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She said: “At my flu clinic we have taken all precautions to ensure the environment is safe for women, and this is the case across all healthcare services in London – including pharmacies and GP surgeries, where you can also get the flu vaccine.”

Influenza during pregnancy can cause severe complications and even stillbirth. According to provisional data from Public Health England covering September and October, in Camden, just 18.1% of pregnant women had been vaccinated, with the Barnet figure being 19.9%  and Haringey seeing a rate of 17.9%. 

In Islington, 21.9% of mums had been given the jab. 

In Camden, from September 2019 to April 2020, 40% of those pregnant had the flu jab.

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Matthew Parris, director of Healthwatch Camden, said the low turnout was disappointing, adding: “We understand from our Life in Lockdown project that some residents in Camden expressed apprehension in visiting surgeries and hospitals because of the fear of contracting coronavirus. The NHS needs to continue to strengthen the way it communicates with people about the Covid-safe measures that are in place.”

Camden Council’s health lead Cllr Patt Callaghan said: “There has never been a more important time to make sure you, and those you care for, are protected against flu. While the flu vaccine won’t protect you from the coronavirus, flu by itself can be serious and if you get flu and Covid-19 at the same time, it could make you seriously ill.”

To get the flu jab, speak to a GP, midwife or pharmacist.