PREGNANT women in the district are being urged to ensure they get their free flu jab.

Health chiefs say that without the protection of the vaccination, pregnant women could be putting themselves and their babies at risk of serious complications associated with flu.

Dr Tracey Cooper, regional chief midwife for the NHS North East and Yorkshire, says the flu jab is the safest way to help protect mums-to-be and their babies – irrespective of how many months pregnant they are.

She added: “There is strong evidence that pregnant women have a higher risk of serious illness as a result of flu compared with the general population.

“The risks are highest in the last three months of pregnancy.

“Studies have shown that women who have been vaccinated are less likely to give birth prematurely – and less likely to have a low-birthweight baby.”

Among those backing the message is NHS midwife Lucy Pryde, who is expecting twins.

She is leading by example after having her jab.

“As a midwife I have my flu jab each year and I have always encouraged my patients to get theirs too – it is so very important,” she said.

“There is a common misconception the influenza vaccine can give you the flu, but it isn’t an active vaccine so this simply isn’t true. The truth is that without the vaccine you could be putting yourself and your baby at risk.”