| 12.9°C Dublin

Do we need a flu jab? Mums-to-be just don't know ...

CONFUSION about swine flu and the dangers it presents to pregnant women remains.

Irish doctors are predicting that the numbers suffering from the potentially life-threatening illness are set to rise as people return to work and school after the festive holidays.

Some 10 people remain in intensive care in hospital with the virus.

Dr Darina O'Flanagan, director of the Health Protections Surveillance Centre, said that while the level of cases were not close to the numbers diagnosed in late 2009, there was still a rise in numbers expected.


The centre has said that the flu vaccine offers the best protection for those at high risk of complications if they contract human swine flu, and that includes pregnant women.

Before Christmas, Dublin's maternity hospitals were put on high alert for cases of the virus as seven pregnant women with swine flu required hospitalisation.

The Herald went to Holles Street to talk to women who were arriving for check-ups, and found that a lot of women felt there was a lack of definitive information available to them.

Some had already got the flu jab with the swine flu vaccine incorporated into it, and others who had not got the injection were about to ask staff at Holles Street for advice. One woman who had swine flu last year was unsure if she was immune, or still at risk.

Pia Cuthbert, from Portrane, had swine flu last year, so wanted to ask doctors if she was now immune or if she would still require the vaccine to protect her and her unborn child.

"I had it last winter and there is no way I'd want it again,' she told the Herald. "I didn't have to be hospitalised, but I was in bed for ages with it, it was horrible," Pia added, saying she missed her 21st birthday party because of it. "I'm 24 weeks pregnant so now I need to ask the doctors can I get the vaccine, or because I had the flu last year am I okay, I really don't know."

"I have been worried about the vaccine because I hear it does contain part of the illness itself, but then again I am also worried about getting swine flu," said Catriona Murray from Oldtown, north county Dublin.

"I'm 34 weeks pregnant now, so I will be asking them about it when I go in for my check-up."

Beauty therapist Gina Coyle, from Stillorgan, said that because she worked with the public she was prompted to get the vaccine. "I wasn't worried about the safety of the vaccine in the least. I wanted to ensure I was protected," she added.


Grace Moran and her husband Robbie McGuinness were on their way in to Holles Street for a check up before their first baby is born in three weeks. "I haven't had the flu jab yet but I certainly will be asking about it when I go in," said Grace.

Michele Hade from Stepaside has already got the flu vaccine, and is expecting her baby in two weeks. "I decided to get it to be on the safe side. I wanted both myself and the baby to be protected, so I got the injection about four weeks ago," she told the Herald.