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Women want ‘more support and advice’ on flu and pertussis

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Women want more support and advice from health professionals about flu and whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy, according to a new survey of recent mothers and pregnant women.

Nearly half of those surveyed by the Royal College of Midwives and the website Emma’s Diary wanted more in-depth discussions and extra educational materials to what they had received.

“The findings show how important it is that midwives have the time to discuss vaccination with women”

Mandy Forrester

The aim was to give midwives and other healthcare professionals more information about women’s decisions on vaccinations and, therefore, promote informed choices, said those behind the survey.

The new survey of recent mothers and pregnant women found that 84% said they were getting information on flu and whooping cough vaccination from their midwife.

Midwives were their main source of information about vaccinations for 79% of women who took part in the survey of over 2,000 people.

In addition, 87% said they found the information from their midwife useful or very useful in helping them make a choice about whether or not to have the flu or whooping cough vaccination.

“Working with the RCM on the pregnancy vaccination research has been hugely beneficial and insightful”

Nick Watts

However, the survey also showed a clear need from women for more support and advice, said the two organisations behind the research.

It found 45% of respondents said they would like more in-depth discussion on this with health professionals and 44% that they would like more educational materials to take home to read.

The survey also revealed that, while 55% had both vaccinations, 21% did not have either vaccination.

Nearly a quarter did not go ahead with either vaccination because they were concerned about how it would affect their baby’s health, while 20% did not have them due to fears about their own health.

Royal College of Midwives

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Mandy Forrester

Mandy Forrester, head of quality and standards at the RCM, said: “The survey showed very clearly that many women do have reservations about having the vaccinations and they also said how important midwives were as a source of information for them.

“It is vital that a pregnant woman has the information she needs to help her decide whether or not she want to have vaccinations to protect themselves and their baby against whooping cough and flu, and midwives have a critical role to play,” she said.

Ms Forrester noted that the findings showed “how important” it was that midwives had the time to discuss vaccination with women and were sufficiently “equipped with resources and information to support them to make an informed choice”.

She added: “We also encourage and recommend that midwives and other NHS staff have the flu vaccine. This helps to protect themselves, and also women and families using maternity services, their colleagues and their own families.”

Nick Watts, managing director at Emma’s Diary said working on the survey had been “hugely beneficial and insightful”.

“We’ve been able to tap into our engaged audience to better understand women’s perceptions of having vaccinations during pregnancy,” he said.

The survey was conducted in June 2017 and 2,648 completed survey responses were received from across the UK.

The Emma’s Diary site provides support and resources on pregnancy and the early post-natal period. Its content is verified by the Royal College of General Practitioners.

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