MUMS-TO-BE on Wearside were today urged to get vaccinated against potentially-deadly flu.
Doctors are making the appeal as early uptake figures showed only about 20 per cent of the estimated 20,000 pregnant women in the North East have had the jab so far.
During last winter, critical care units across the region were flooded with people who should have been vaccinated against flu, but instead ended up so seriously ill that they had to be ventilated as doctors battled to keep them alive.
Those admitted to hospital included a number of pregnant women.
Dr Tricia Cresswell, deputy medical director at NHS North East, warned that pregnant women are putting their unborn children at risk.
Dr Cresswell said: “Flu can cause serious illness in pregnant women and in the most severe cases, can put the lives of expectant mums and their unborn babies in unnecessary danger.
“This is because the woman’s body and immune system is adapting to accommodate the growing baby and less able to fight off the flu virus.”
She added: “Pregnant women will do anything to protect their unborn child and I really would urge them to get vaccinated as a matter of priority.
“The flu vaccine is safe for mother and baby and can be given at any stage of pregnancy. The earlier you have the vaccine the better as it means you will be protected for the whole winter and it may also give your unborn baby some protection against flu during the first six months of life.”