Pregnant women are being urged to get the flu vaccine

New figures show a record number of confirmed influenza cases were reported in January, prompting reminders for pregnant women to access vaccinations.

Here’s what you need to know.

The facts

According to the Department of Health, more than 6,500 laboratory confirmed cases were recorded across Australia in January in comparison to 2,800 cases recorded at the same time last year.

The Director of Communicable Diseases Branch for NSW Health, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said while pregnant women were being encouraged to get the flu vaccine, the majority of Australians are being advised to hold off.

“For the rest of us, it is best to wait until the 2019 flu vaccine becomes available in April or May; but if you are already unwell, avoid visiting hospitals, aged care facilities or infants,” Dr Sheppeard said.

Why pregnant women should get the flu vaccine

“Nearly every state and territory is seeing unusually high levels of flu activity, with the national reporting rate almost three times the average for this time of year,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“It is a timely warning for pregnant women to get a flu shot so the antibodies will help protect their babies until they are old enough to be vaccinated at six months of age.

“Pregnant women in their final trimester who are due to give birth before April should get along to their GP, or their trained pharmacist, and get a free flu shot.”

The flu vaccine is free for those in high risk groups including pregnant women, people aged 65 years and over and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

For further information on the flu vaccine, consult with your GP.