A Plymouth teacher was hospitalised whilst pregnant due to suffering with flu, shortly after catching COVID-19. She would like to appeal to all pregnant people to get both the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations in order to protect both themselves and their unborn babies.
Christine, who is already a mum to son Harry, has just had her second child, Barney. In September last year both she and her partner tested positive for COVID-19, shortly before they were due to receive their booster vaccinations.
“I’d had my first COVID-19 vaccination back in January and the second in April when I was about two or three weeks pregnant,” explains Christine. “I think if I’d had the booster in September I might have been completely asymptomatic or maybe not have caught it at all. However, at least being double-vaccinated meant that we weren’t too badly affected, especially in comparison to what a lot of others have faced. I did take as much paracetamol as I was allowed though!
“It was a real worry, especially being pregnant, not knowing how it could or would impact the baby. Thankfully though everything is fine with my pregnancy, and I’m so incredibly glad to have had the vaccinations I did, as it no doubt gave both myself and my baby some protection against getting really ill and gave us the best possible chances for recovery.”
Shortly after her isolation period ended from COVID-19, Christine contracted the flu virus and became very poorly as a result.
“It was really horrible,” she said. “I couldn’t keep anything down – fluids or food – and I became severely dehydrated. My baby wasn’t getting the reserves it needed and the midwives became very concerned, so they admitted me to Derriford Hospital. It was all a bit scary, especially when there were no foetal movements for 24 hours and my temperature wasn’t coming down.
“Thankfully I’ve recovered and my baby is okay, but I certainly never want to experience that again. I had to take an extra week off work to simply recover from the tiredness and complete lack of energy, even after the other symptoms had subsided, and it’s taken me nearly four weeks to regain the weight I lost after being so poorly.”
Christine took up the option of having her flu jab as soon as it was offered through her GP practice and although she still caught the flu a few weeks later, she believes that it would have greatly dampened her symptoms.
“I used to think that being young and fit meant that the flu wouldn’t really impact me, but I’ve honestly never felt so ill in my life. I’m just so glad to have had the vaccine in time, as it hopefully helped to make my symptoms less serious than if I hadn’t had it at all.
“My advice to anyone would be to get every vaccine you can. Especially if you’re pregnant, it makes sense to take anything and everything you are offered to protect both you and your baby. They wouldn’t be offered if they weren’t safe for both of you, and it can only help to reduce the impact of any of the illnesses.”
The vast majority of pregnant women who have been admitted to hospital with severe COVID-19 are proving to be unvaccinated. Vaccination clinics are now available within the maternity department at Derriford Hospital, with clinicians on hand to answer any questions, which makes it convenient for pregnant people to receive their jab when attending antenatal clinics. They can also book online and attend any drop-in session being held at other locations throughout the city.
Pregnant people who have had their first and second jabs are also encouraged to book their COVID-19 booster as soon as possible.
It’s also not too late to get the flu jab in pregnancy - speak to your midwife or GP practice to arrange it today!
For further information about vaccinations in pregnancy, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/vaccinations/ or download this leaflet.