Flu jab bonus for pregnant women

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A PILOT scheme to offer flu jabs to pregnant women at ultrasound appointments has been rolled out to the Horton General Hospital.

Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital (JR) initially launched the scheme last year and, following its success, the Oxford Racliffe Hospitals Trust and NHS Oxfordshire will now extend the service to Banbury.

Doctor Tony Berendt, deputy medical director of Oxford University Hospitals Trust, said: “We have set up this service across the JR and Horton sites because it’s so important that pregnant women get the flu jab.

“Flu in pregnancy is serious for the mum-to-be, whose immunity is reduced by pregnancy, and for the newborn baby, which can be affected if the pregnant woman becomes seriously ill.

“The flu jab protects her and her baby. It only takes a couple of minutes, and it’s safe and simple.

“We hope offering this service at the time of their ultrasound scan will help more women to get their flu jab.”

Last year the scheme ran for seven weeks at the JR Hospital and 266 women were immunised.

This year the initiative will run for 13 weeks across both sites and it is hoped 1,000 expectant mothers will be vaccinated.

Rosemary de Wilde, immunisation manager of NHS Oxfordshire said: “We wanted to make it really easy for pregnant women to access a flu jab and last year’s scheme showed women appreciated the convenience of getting the jab as they waited for another appointment.”

In 2011/2012, 34 per cent of pregnant women in Oxfordshire were immunised. It is hoped the figure will rise to 70 per cent this year.