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Flu vaccine for pregnant women

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommends vaccine for pregnant women against seasonal flu in order to protect their unborn child// from the risk of leukemia.

According to the JCVI, the expectant mothers should get vaccinated in the second and third trimester. After approval from the government, the vaccine would be given free to expectant mothers during the flu season.

Seasonal influenza poses high risk of morbidity and mortality in pregnant women, particularly during the later stages. The efficacy and safety of flu vaccine was determined by a subgroup of JCVI earlier this year. They pointed out the risk of side effects, however, in the U.S. pregnant women are given flu jabs and studies there have proved the risk to be very less.

In the U.K., flu afflicts nearly 10-15% of the population and claims several thousand lives. Professor John Oxford, a virologist at Queen Mary College School of Medicine, London, said: "It's a big initiative. We know women in pregnancy are more vulnerable and are at extra risk from flu. "We're not the first country to do it. The JCVI is trying to protect women during pregnancy and help protect the baby."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "No final decision will be made until ministers have considered the recommendations. "

At present, the flu jab is given first to the high-risk group comprising the over-65s, people with respiratory conditions like asthma, and those with chronic conditions like diabetes.

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