Health – Is the Swine Flu vaccine safe for pregnant women

Q: I'm four months pregnant. I understand the swine flu vaccine is going to be offered to pregnant women from October. But is it safe?

Answer by Dr Clare Heggie

I know it's a worrying time for pregnant women at the moment, with so much conflicting advice about swine flu and pregnancy around. You are right that the vaccine is going to be offered to all pregnant women once it is available (in the same way the seasonal flu vaccine is offered now). This decision is based on the fact that pregnant women are four more times likely to be hospitalised with swine flu. Although the majority of pregnant women who get swine flu have an uncomplicated recovery, they are more susceptible to developing complications, for example pneumonia.

The vaccine is currently undergoing clinical trials, and if it is offered to pregnant women it will be on the basis that it thought to be safe for women and their unborn children, and that the risks of not having the vaccine far outweigh the risks of having it. Ultimately, however, it will be entirely your decision whether or not to have the vaccine.

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