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Swine flu & flu jab??

(31 Posts)
BelleRomford74 Sun 18-Sep-11 18:27:37

I am 17 weeks pregnant, so will be pregnant all over the winter & flu season!! Has anyone been offered any advice on Swine flu or plain old flu?

I remember reading so many horrible & sad stories last winter of pregnant women contracting Swine flu & babies having to be delivered early etc.. There has been no mention of Swine flu this year, but I have noticed pharmacies are advertising appointments for Flu jabs & it says reccomended for pregnant women!!

Have heard in the past mixed medical opinions about the general Flu jab, saying that it can make you so poorly & give you Flu it defeats the object & that so many new strains of Flu go round each year that the jab does'nt protect you from that it is not worth getting the jab!!!

I have a Midwife app on friday & was going to ask her advice but also interested on peoples experiences & opinions!!

Thank you xx smile

roseum Sun 18-Sep-11 18:40:22

I'm a bit ahead of you, due mid-Jan, and I have just had a letter from my doctor's surgery inviting me along to a flu jab session as being pg I fall into an at-risk group. Haven't decided yet whether to go - but probably will, having had a really bad bout of flu once before (not while pg) I'd rather not have a repeat experience when pg. There is some info on the nhs website (can't find link, sorry) about this year's jab.

ToriaPumpkinPasty Sun 18-Sep-11 18:43:14

It was the first thing I did when I went to tell the surgery I was pregnant. I've had one bad bout of flu in my life and as I got my BFP in February when flu was still very much around my mum (a MW) told me to make sure I got it. I was lucky in that there were some in the surgery so the Dr did it there and then.

pruney1977 Sun 18-Sep-11 18:43:14

I have my flu jab booked with the doctors on 8th October. I have asthma so have had the flu jabs for the last 2 years (had asthma longer but never bothered with the jab before) and I don't regret it. I never got any flu like symptoms afterwards and my DH had really bad flu after I got the first jab and thankfully, I never caught so much as a sniffle off him.
I don't know if I'd have bothered had I just been pregnant but with my asthma, it'd got to the stage that if I just got a cold I ended up on steroids so catching flu would've been horrendous.
Check with your doctor as if they're recommending it for pregnant people, you'll get it free, you'd have to pay at the pharmacy.

CBear6 Sun 18-Sep-11 18:44:53

I was offered a flu jab earlier this year while pregnant with DD. The pregnancy before I had a mc (my second mc) so I was feeling a bit vulnerable and a bit overprotective and didn't want to do anything that I thought might jeopardise the pregnancy. Ultimately I decided that the flu would be a bigger danger than the jab, especially as most of the risks from contracting flu apply to me rather than the baby and the lowered immune system in pregnancy makes it more likely that flu could potentially be fatal. I was fine after the jab, a little shivery that night but nothing bad and I wasn't ill at all. The nurse told me that if I did have any side-effects then paracetamol would sort them out and they wouldn't last longer than 24 hours.

The flu strain changes each flu season which is why they have a different jab each year and now the swine flu jab is incorporated into the existing injection. Loads of people told me that flu is nothing but lots of people who think they've had flu have actually just had bad colds or chest infections. Real flu is vile, I had it when I was 13 and was ill in bed for almost two weeks with another week of gradually recovering, I'd hate to feel that ill while pregnant.

Blueberties Sun 18-Sep-11 18:44:56

I think you need to make sure that the vaccination you receive doesn't contain mercury. Some flu jabs still do.

CBear6 Sun 18-Sep-11 18:48:45

The NHS (or whichever part the NHS decides these things) is recommending it for pregnant women and anyone else with a weakened immune system. I got a letter on Friday with an appointment, I had DD on Wednesday but they said that it takes the immune system up to 12 weeks to recover after pregnancy so I'm still classed as high risk.

Biscuitsandtea Sun 18-Sep-11 18:53:23

Hi, according to my GP surgery, I should be invited for a jab as an 'at risk' person, but no idea about it anymore than that! Look forward to others thoughts though?

PIMSoclock Sun 18-Sep-11 18:55:19

I had the jab last year as was in continuous contact with H1N1. I was told that the pandermix was safe at the time but opted for cevlapan for the following reasons
( I have copied and pasted this from another site, but the infor is true and accurate)

Things to consider
1.) live virus - both these vaccines are inactivated vaccines containing no live virus and therefore are safe for pregnant women. Ordinary flu vaccines have been used in pregnant women for a long time and cause no problems. In fact, the antibodies, produced by women after the vaccine, transfer to the baby and may provide some protection for the baby against flu after it is born. The swine flu vaccines have been made exactly the same way as normal flu vaccines have for decades.
2) Thiomersal - this is a preservative containing mercury. In the US and other countries mercury has been linked with neurodevelopmental problems in children, and is banned from childhood vaccines in lots of countries. However the FDA doesn't think it is harmful for pregnant women. We naturally ingest mercury from food sources (e.g. fish) and the amount in the vaccine doesn't take our intake over safe levels. Also recent studies have found no relationship between thiomersal and developmental delays in children. The GOOD NEWS is that celvapan does NOT contain thiomersal (while pandemrix does).
3) Adjuvants - there is some worry that adjuvants (which boost the efficacy of the vaccine) aren't safe in pregnancy but I don't know any evidence either way. The GOOD NEWS is that celvapan does not contain adjuvants, but because of this you need two doses of it rather than one. Pandemrix does contain adjuvants.
Therefore, it seems like celvapan should be safe for pregnancy, and pandemrix is thought to be safe but if you are worried about mercury and adjuvants you could avoid it and ask for celvapan. However, celvapan will take longer to become effective as you need two doses over 3 weeks instead of 1 dose
C.E.Hayes (2008) Prevention of Influenza. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health vol 53 No. 3 pp 268-271

PIMSoclock Sun 18-Sep-11 18:56:28

I should say I was also 18 (ish) weeks preg when I had it, sorry

Blueberties Sun 18-Sep-11 19:03:17

"However the FDA doesn't think it is harmful for pregnant women."

I wouln't want to take that risk: they said the same about infants. In fact, giving mercury to pregnant women would seriously skew the figures with regards to mercury exposure/foetuses/infants/autism. Many people claim austism could be connected to mercury exposure: others claim that since it was removed from infant vaccines the figures haven't dropped as much as they should. But exposing infants to mercury in the womb, as has continued to happen in the US and here to a certain extent, skews these exposure figures.

So if it's possible to have the vaccine without mercury, I definitely would.

Oeisha Sun 18-Sep-11 19:35:23

NHS site:
Swine flu
Seasonal flu

Just so you guys have the links.

Waiting for my surgery to get back to me with dates for jabs...

pims if we don't get the H1N1 vaccine because it isn't considered the 'seasonal' one to give us (seems unlikely), do you know if the generic seasonal is adjuvant free?

PIMSoclock Sun 18-Sep-11 20:06:31


Is currently used for adults, the british national formulary says it is not known to be harmful in pregnancy, the manufacturer says that safety in pregnancy has not been fully established but is considered safe in the second trimester and does not contain mercury

is licensed for over 4s but does contain traces of thiomersal (mercury). It has been used for pregnant women, but again, the manufacturers say safety has not been established although the bnf says no known harmful effects

Enzira is licensed for the over 5s and does not contain mercury (strugling to find the package insert for this) but does carry a increased risk of febrile convulsions under 5. Although I cant find the insert, it would be safe to say its safety has not been established.

From this, I would say that intaza would be a reasonable choice. However I would say, talk it over with your GP and ask them to take advice from your obstetrician if necessary. From what I recall on discussion with my local epidemiologist H1N1 should not be as much of a problem as it was last year, though it will not completely disappear. It can be difficult to predict and we do consider all pregnant women to have a degree of imunocompromise. I was immunised when pregnant because I unfortunately saw first hand the devastating effects of H1N1 during pregnancy

Hope this has been helpful

Blueberties Sun 18-Sep-11 20:26:59

The problem is "no known harmful effects" is rather vague.

If you look at the symptoms of mercury poisoning it's quite easy to see how those symptoms could present with there being no possible way of connecting them with mercury exposure during pregnancy. So it does mean that "no known harmful effects" is almost meaningless.

PIMSoclock Sun 18-Sep-11 20:32:05

absolutely agree, I would go with the mercury free option.

Oeisha Sun 18-Sep-11 22:26:49

TYVM pims. You're a star!

Penelope1980 Mon 19-Sep-11 01:06:36

I think it's worth it - got it in my second trimester and last week at 38 weeks was the only person in my family/circle/household NOT to get the flu as was the only person to have got the jab. True there is a chance that I may not have anyway, but was glad nonetheless, the flu at 38 weeks would have been tough.

Without meaning too I have probably eaten more than a vaccine's worth of mecury poisioning in tinned tuna due to cravings in early pregnancy anyway, but having said that would go mercury free if given the choice.

featherbag Mon 19-Sep-11 07:49:21

Having seen first hand what flu can do to a pregnant woman, I'm booked in for mine on 3rd October, when I'll be 32+1. I get it every year because of my job, but this is the first time I've been pregnant so made sure I was at the front of the queue! WRT mercury - I've seen several pregnant women with flu in A&E in the course of my job, some quite poorly. Of course I don't know what happened to them or their babies when they left my care. I've never seen a pregnant woman poorly through the flu jab! You'd get more mercury in your system from eating a tuna sandwich, IMO this 'mercury scare' is the conspiracy theorists thinking up something else to be frightened of.

Oeisha Mon 26-Sep-11 10:21:00

From a DHA site document Vaccines available for the 2011/12 seasonal flu immunisation programme
"None of the flu vaccines for the 2011/12 season contain thiomersal as an added preservative."
Just thought you guys might like to see this link. I'm booked in for mine on 3rd also am trying to find out what vaccines are on offer this year... a practice nurse ringing me back hopefully to discuss options.
Not sure why but I'm less worried about aluminium adjuvants, even though this is something I have concerns about for my cats boosters...but I guess the difference is this is in their necks usually and if anything were to develop round the injection site I'd find it more quickly on me than I would on one of my furbabies...

justabigdisco Mon 26-Sep-11 10:32:28

I agree featherbag.. work in NHS myself..
I have to say that if people had seen (as I have) pregnant women ventilated and in a coma on ITU for months because of flu, they may be less worried about a small amount of mercury which is less than what we ingest via food..

Katiebeau Mon 26-Sep-11 10:34:05

You cannot ask for a specific brand of vaccine. They are bought through central government contracts. The GPs have the ones they contract for. Also pandemrix has 10's of thousands of pregnant women data, celvapan hardly used. Swine flu is included in the normal seasonal vaccine now anyway so you don't need either. Swine flu was rarely utterly devastating in pregnant women. I got the seasonal jab last year to protect myself and baby. Swine flu was strange. Usually incredibly mild, sometimes vicious. sad

Oeisha Mon 26-Sep-11 10:54:15

If you look at the link I just gave that's a lost of DHA approved vaccines....thus I assume there is some flexibility within the system otherwise they'd have just push 1 maybe 2 vaccines. I note that quite a few have egg proteines in them and thus may not be suitable for those with egg allergies...are they just gonna get told "it's this or risk swine flu"..don't think so...
And, also, I think you'll find I do have the right to ask what vaccine they're going to be putting into my body, if possible I want (from the looks of it "Enzira" as it's mercury free, formaldahyde free etc). Whether or not I choose to accept it is MY choice.
And before people start getting hysterical I am going to have the vaccine, (I am intelligent and aware of the concept of herd immunity), but do believe fully in informed consent. I'm totally pissed off with the "there, there my dear" attitude of medical professionals. It's unacceptable. If I didn't want to know, I wouldn't be asking. I would just prefer to have the treatment I want if possible...or is that too much to ask for?

PIMSoclock Mon 26-Sep-11 17:17:50

Fluverin is on the list this year. It is licensed for over 4s but does contain traces of thiomersal
With regards to the egg proteins, the worry about reaction to this is significantly less that it used to be. The level of the protein in the flu vaccinations is exceptionally low. There has been a lot of research into the safety of vaccines in patients with egg allergies as well as research to show that patients with egg allergies are actually at an increased risk of developing flu and asthma. I could put some further info on this if you are interested?

Katiebeau you can ask for a specific brand if you give a reasonable rationale. Last year I asked for cevlapan instead of the pandermix my surgery had as it was free from thiomersal last year
The vaccines are bought in bulk and the GPs are contracted to provide a certain number, however if the clinical need is exists and the patient can provide a reasonable argument as to why they would prefer a specific brand (that is on the NHS approved list) the GP can write a prescription for it. You will find that they will keep a small supply of all approved formulations. The key will be weather the drug is licensed and suitable for your clinical needs.

Oeisha Mon 26-Sep-11 18:19:35

Ah pims someone that talks sense. I'm not particularly interested in the egg thing, but was using it as an example as to why the entire list of vaccines I linked was available rather than just 1 or 2.

Katiebeau Mon 26-Sep-11 20:26:25

If it's on the NHS approved list yes - all fine. Not all approved vaccines will be on the NHS list though so not all are available.

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