The flu is sweeping across the country at the moment and it’s just been revealed that 55 babies have been struck down with the illness in Victoria alone this year. That’s 52 more than in 2018.
A huge flu surge in tiny babies
“Health Department figures show that 13,214 Victorians have been diagnosed with flu so far this year and 26 people have died, including three children aged three, six and 11 years old,” The Age reports.
“Among those who have contracted influenza are 1,270 children aged under four. In the same period last year, only 164 children aged under four were diagnosed with the flu.”
Royal Children’s Hospital paediatrician Margie Danchin told The Age that these figures are actually conservative because some children may have contracted the flu without it being tested and reported. This year the flu season started three months earlier than usual, which has contributed to this surge in flu cases, she explained.
Dr Danchin noted that babies under six months are particularly vulnerable to the flu and flu complications, but that this is usually preventable if mums have a flu shot during pregnancy.
“What we know is that maternal vaccination is about 90 percent effective at preventing a hospital admission for the baby in the first six months,” she said.
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Flu shot facts
If you’re pregnant and not sure whether to get a flu shot let us give you some information that’ll get you off to the doctor stat:
- Research tells us it’s completely safe to have the flu vaccine during pregnancy.
- A number of studies have suggested vaccination might even reduce the risk of preterm birth and stillbirth. It may also boost an infant’s birth weight.
- The flu vaccine is part of the National Immunisation Program for pregnant women and is free.
- You can have the vaccine any time during pregnancy.
- The flu vaccines given in Australia don’t contain any live virus, so contracting the flu from the vaccination is impossible.
- When the flu shot is given during pregnancy (especially in late pregnancy), maternal antibodies are transferred via the placenta to the unborn child, protecting the infant for the first few months of life.
- Research has found women are less likely to get whooping cough during pregnancy if they’ve had the flu shot.
Get your flu shot, mamas. Look after you and your baby/ies.