Pregnant women denied flu jabs say midwives
Pregnant women were denied the seasonal flu jab in some parts of the UK, before swine flu began claiming more lives, because not all GPs were aware that mothers-to-be had been made a priority group to receive the jab this winter.
Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, told the Guardian that a number of pregnant women had been refused the vaccine by family doctors in autumn.
“In October, when GPs started telling patients to come for immunisation, some pregnant women got it and some didn’t. GPs sent some of them away because they thought they didn’t need it, because no one had told them that pregnant women had been added to the list of groups of people considered ‘at risk’,” she said.
Research shows pregnant women are four times more likely to develop serious complications if they catch H1N1 swine flu, which is the main strain of seasonal flu circulating this winter. There has been concern that takeup of the jab protecting against all three strains of flu has been low among pregnant women.
Silverton also criticised the decision by the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, to cancel the usual advertising campaign intended to prompt the 16 million Britons classed as vulnerable to have the jab.
“It was short-sighted of the Department of Health not to have the usual campaign, she said. “It was done to save money. I agree with the government’s overall aim of reducing government advertising, but they should have been more selective and kept the campaign for all at-risk groups.
“Usually there are posters on buses and all sorts, but this year there was nothing. It was a wasted opportunity not to have the awareness campaign stressing the importance of people in at-risk groups being vaccinated.”
A majority of the 50 people to die from flu so far this winter had not had the three-in-one jab at least two weeks before falling ill, the Health Protection Agency said.
The outbreak has so far claimed 50 lives and left 783 people in intensive care, amid vaccine shortages and low takeup rates of the seasonal flu jab.
Tags: Andrew Lansley, H1N1, labour, maternity, NHS Deaths, pregnancy, RCM, swine flu