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Q&A about flu jabs during pregnancy with NHS - ANSWERS BACK

(52 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 04-Oct-12 10:32:02

The NHS are taking your questions this week about the flu jab. Send your questions before the end of Tuesday 9 October to Dr Cathy Read, flu expert for the Department of Health and Dr Richard Pebody, Influenza lead from the Health Protection Agency and we'll link to their answers on 18th October.

The NHS experts say:
"It's the start of flu season and every year people die from a flu-related illness. Did you know that pregnant women are 18 times more likely to end up in hospital if they develop flu complications? If you are pregnant, getting the flu jab will protect both you and your baby. Other people who need the jab are:

Children and adults with long term health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart or neurological conditions. For a full list of at risk health conditions see

Those who care for people with health problems - either in health or social care or as an unpaid carer

Over 65s.

There are lots of myths about the flu jab. Research shows that it is safe to be given at any stage of pregnancy; there is no evidence of problems for pregnant women or their babies; and getting a flu jab during pregnancy will give immunity against flu to babies for the first six months of their life. The jab can't give you flu because it contains no live virus and you do need one every year. If you have a long term health condition such as asthma, diabetes or a neurological condition, you are also at risk of developing serious complications and need a flu jab".

This Q&A has been sponsored by the NHS

runfromflujagandothervaccines Wed 12-Dec-12 15:39:56

I have read hundreds of evidence from scientists not connected financially to pharma companies. Not in a million years will I let them near me or my baby with their unnecessary v dangerous vaccines. Run run and don't look back. They are evil

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 24-Oct-12 12:10:33

Hello, here is the link to the answers from the NHS to your flu jab in pregnancy questions.

Thanks for your patience (and your questions).

Shriek Fri 19-Oct-12 08:46:51

hey, thanks Rachel I appreciate your response. In this instance tho, nobody is getting scientific responses, just the 'oh its a success', or 'i'm pro-vaccination' or 'these illnesses kill', these statements mean nothing and its so important for people to have REAL information about these potentially life and death decisions for their family. Can the rules be relaxed around this for this one time? I for one will definitely be happy reading more than 20 answers! I keep asking 'the NHS' and cannot get anything other than wishy washy generalisations! sad

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 19-Oct-12 00:03:49

We're sorry the answers aren't live yet - there's been a slight delay but we're working on the archive now and should have the answers to your Qs early next week (we'll sticky this thread so it stays at the top of pregnancy as soon as it's live).

Shriek, we're sorry we can't send more Qs over. We came to the decision to stick to 20 Qs when we realised that mumsnetters just weren't reading beyond this. We try to choose a selection of Qs which we feel is representative of those being asked and we try to stick as far as possible to one questions per mumsnetter.

Pedantic - hadn't read your post before I sent the Qs over or of course I would have selected all your questions as top priority smile

PedanticPanda Wed 10-Oct-12 23:42:18

Hi rachel, did I mention you've always been my favourite at mnhq? smile, oh... Did you see I'd asked a few questions at the start of the thread... I'm not hinting to be one of the chosen 20 or anything though... Honest wink

Shriek Wed 10-Oct-12 21:54:07

very disappointed that NHS will chose 20 questions out of all these valid points that really need answering.. these decisions are no game that the NHS can pick and chose the questions that people really need answers to

Astranger Wed 10-Oct-12 11:47:51

Where is the Expert's Answer?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 10-Oct-12 10:55:03

The Q&A is now closed. We'll send 20 Qs over to Dr Cathy Read and Dr Pebody and link to their answers on 18th October.

Shriek Wed 10-Oct-12 04:09:02

I agree with bealos, can the NHS please provide the links to the statistical evidence please?

Also, What is your comment on the scientific study of SIDS (Neil Miller) - 'episodes of apnoea... were measured... [after the pertissus/Whooping cough vaccine] showing the vaccine caused an extraordinary increase in episodes where breathing either nearly ceased or stopped completely... continuing for months after'.

Dr Viera Schrieber (the study's author) concluded 'vaccination is the single most prevalent and preventable cause of infant deaths' and why have many countries ceased use of it: because of seizures, brain damage, and death if its so safe?

and, can you refute this statement with evidence please 'Vaccine induced antibodies are not passed to the newborn baby as passive immunity from the mother'

Isn't it true that way back in 94 the BMJ stated that it was well-known [by immunologists] that asthma, eczema, & diabetes are the result of trying to eradicate infectious diseases [through vaccine]?

Is human foetal tissue used in Chicken pox & Rubella?

If the vaccines are safe why are they all full of antibiotics, something we are now told is to be avoided in 'routine' use as its setting up the environment for super bugs?

Thank you. I am looking forward to be being informed about these risks.

bealos Tue 09-Oct-12 14:53:29

Why is the information given on the NHS site about immunisation so basic? It simply tells us things are 'safe' and 'have been tested'. Why does it not include links to research and reports from which the NHS has drawn conclusive evidence to tell us that flu jabs and whopping cough jabs (whilst pregnant) are safe?

PrincessPumpkinshoutsBOO Mon 08-Oct-12 18:50:16

I have been advised by my mw to have it but I am only 10 weeks pregnant, is it too early?

CountryKitty Mon 08-Oct-12 18:46:25

I'm 24 weeks pg and, following NHS advice, I had my flu jab on Friday.

I have today read on the BBC website that a company which supplies approximately 10% of the UK's flu vaccine stock has withdrawn it's supply of the flu vaccine after having safety concerns over two batches.

- Should we be concerned about this?
- What in particular are their safety worries?
- Will we be contacted if we have been given a vaccine supplied by this company?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

Mitchdafish Mon 08-Oct-12 18:44:20

Hello. Am wondering how immunity is measured in young babies following flu jabs in pregnancy. Is it by blood tests for antibodies? Or by cases of flu in babies?
Subsequently what proportion of babies may be protected if their mothers have the jab?
Many thanks

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Oct-12 14:15:43


I had mine on Mon 1st Oct at 39+2. Just wondering if the baby will indeed receive protection/immunity if I go into labour on my due date of 06/10/12?

Also the jab left a red raised lump this time - is this because I'm pregnant (not happenbed before and didn't hurt ant the time)

Spice, feel this may already be a little late for you but here is the response to your answer:

"This does seem a bit soon, however if you have had flu in the last few years it is possible for the vaccine to boost your immunity quickly, even within a week. Also, your baby will be protected because, having had the flu vaccine, you will be less likely to transmit flu virus to your baby. The red lump you describe sounds like a local reaction to the jab and is not likely to be because you are pregnant. If you have not had the whooping cough vaccine, you should also discuss this with your doctor or midwife".

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Oct-12 14:12:12


I am due on 12 Oct and got a letter about organising a flu jab. Do you think, as I am due so soon, I can ignore the letter and not have one?

Hi Shoppingtrolley, we realise the archived Q&A won't be live until after your due date so Dr Cathy Read and Dr Peabody have agreed to answer your question ahead of this. Here's their answer:

"The final decision is for you and your doctor, however providing there are no contraindications you can have the flu jab at any stage in pregnancy. There is evidence that if pregnant women are vaccinated their baby may be protected from flu for up to six months after the baby is born. It will usually take a week to ten days for your body to make antibodies and this immunity will be passed on to your baby in the womb. If you have the vaccine you will have your own immunity and so reduce the risk of picking up the flu virus from the community and passing it on to your baby.

You should also talk to your doctor about getting the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine. A temporary immunisation programme has just been introduced to offer pregnant women immunisation against whooping cough in response to the current outbreak. The optimum time for this is between 28 to 38 weeks of pregnancy but you can still have the vaccine up to the onset of labour".

DizzyHoneyBee Mon 08-Oct-12 10:01:14

Although I am not pregnant, the GP has recommended that I have the flu vaccine. However she says that I do not meet the NHS criteria for having the vaccine, surely if the GP recommends it then I should be able to have it on the NHS?

LeBFG Mon 08-Oct-12 08:30:16

What's the NHS view on research showing mass vaccination campaigns driving evolution of new strains of flu virus? Although we may be saving individual lives now in the present, are we not storing up problems for future generations in a similar way to antibiotics and development of resistance? What are the NHS's long term goals vis-a-vis the flu vaccine and mass vaccination campaigns?

Bubblegum78 Fri 05-Oct-12 18:54:22

I had my flu jab weds and I'm worried I may be pregnant. x

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 05-Oct-12 13:08:44


[Grin] mini!

My only other point to your experts, mnhq is that I think some people are more puzzled about the whooping cough vaccination and the fact its a combined one, as well as anxiety about missing out on the antibodies passing to baby if over 38 wks, though we seem to have been told that they can still have it to minimise catching it and infecting baby after birth. I've felt very comfortable having it but I'm sure there's some who are less happy and might a appreciate similar q & a?

Thanks for the suggestion. We are looking into the possibility of this.

Shriek Fri 05-Oct-12 10:22:57

Can the NHS show us proper rigorous scientific research on sufficient numbers (so its statistically significant), with control groups (otherwise the figures are foundless), and long-term effects, with proper side effect reporting avenues that are foloowed up and logged; the swine-flu vaccine hasn't been around long enough for this, and the study I read was only on a few thousand, with insufficient data around that for robust findings.

This information should be shared so that people are not making decisions purely out of fear for their's and their babies lives and health.

There are different vaccines out there, but the one in use has just been referred to as the Seasonal flu Vaccine; some don't have an adjuvant (poison like mercury/aluminium to stimulate a fight reaction in the body), and i've read that only the nasal one has any 'live' virus in it.

... all medicines are to be avoided in pregnancy breastfeeding aren't they, these are NHS guidelines, or have been...

Bongaloo Fri 05-Oct-12 09:29:23

I was pregnant last year and had the flu jab - and had a much better winter for it! I've written off a few xmases with flu and could really do without being ill this year.
So (as I don't qualify for a free jab) I'm thinking of paying for it this year.

Is there any reason why I can't have it while breastfeeding?
(I'd still be breastfeeding if I had the flu anyway).

Shriek Fri 05-Oct-12 09:16:40

Are we wiping out a whole tranch of immunity development tools for babies/children, leading to worse vulnerabilities in the long term? The immune system can only develop in response to bacterial and viral contact.

Surely there is sense in using safe vaccines only for those at a real risk, rather than the blanket policy of scaring everyone into believe that they, or their babies, could die as a result of not having it. After all, there is no greater chance of getting swine flu or the regular seasonal flu if you are pregnant.

Mitchdafish Fri 05-Oct-12 08:54:24

I am suspicious of vaccines and heartily agree with Shriek about research. I've read a bit of Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre... people including the NHS and pharma companies can easily cherrypick research and we are none the wiser. Also, researching vaccines thoroughly is difficult to do in an 'ethical' manner, even more so when pregnancy and babies are concerned, so I think there will always be a possibility of risk from a vaccine due to inadequate resesearch. There are no guarantees in life, no vaccine can be a magic wand, just different perspectives on what consitutes risk.

Shriek Fri 05-Oct-12 08:38:37

Do doctors always pick up side-effects. Is there an inherent problem in the system of reporting side-effects as the result of vaccines?

If it is a doctors 'belief' that vaccines cannot cause any given side effect being presented, it will NOT be linked to the vaccine.

In the same way that many, many cases of measles have been denied by doctors as being measles because the child was vaccinated, but subsequently tested and proved to be so.

dariakars Fri 05-Oct-12 05:42:13

what are the chemical/organic ingredients of the flu vaccine? where do they come from (how are they manufactured) ? what are the long term side effects (if known) of flu vaccine ( have they been studied, and for how long)?

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