According to NHS North Somerset thousands of pregnant women could be putting both themselves and their unborn baby at risk if they do not get a free flu jab provided by the NHS.

Over  2,000 women in the North Somerset area have been urged to get the jab before it is too late. Many women are still reluctant to do so over fears effectiveness and effects to their babies.

Becky Pollard, North Somerset director of public health  said: “We suspect many pregnant women have no idea that flu could potentially be a serious risk to their baby, yet early immunisation is an easy and effective way for mums to protect themselves and their babies against the potential threat.

“This study shows how harmful flu can be for unborn babies. This is because pregnant women are more likely to develop complications if they get flu. “

This all comes as new research commissioned by the University of Oxford highlighted the potential dangers of the H1N1 (influenza) virus, compared with seasonal flu. Figures show that between Sept 2009 and Jany 2010, 256 would-be-mothers were infected and 10 children were subsequently stillborn or died shortly after birth. The data shows that babies were nearly six times more likely to die if their mother caught the illness.

Read more about Flu during pregnancy and address your concerns about flu vaccinations.

As with any medical concerns, please seek advise from your GP if you have have any concerns with regards to flu prevention.