Skip to main content

28/01/14 12:32

Scotland’s leading midwife to take Twitter questions

Live Q&A session with Director of Royal College of Midwives in Scotland

Mums-to-be will be offered the chance to put their questions about flu to Scotland’s leading pregnancy expert during a live Twitter session this week.

Gillian Smith, Director of the Royal College of Midwives in Scotland, will be on hand to lend her expertise on pregnancy and the seasonal flu vaccination when she leads a Scottish Government flu vaccination Q&A, live on Twitter on Wednesday 29 January at 5pm.

Latest figures show that only 45.3 per cent of pregnant women have taken up the offer of the flu vaccine, although almost a third (62.8 per cent) of pregnant women with underlying conditions have been immunised. The Q&A platform will help to alleviate any concerns that pregnant women may have about being vaccinated and the impact on their unborn baby.

Gillian Smith will focus on highlighting the safety of the vaccine and its benefits, which include protecting the pregnant mother from contracting flu as well as their baby for the first three months of its life. The vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy to women, including those who suffer from underlying health conditions.

Gillian Smith, Director of the Royal College of Midwives in Scotland said: “Due to changes in the immune system of women during pregnancy, they are at greater risk of suffering from complications if they contract flu. A pregnant woman is three and a half times more likely to be hospitalised from flu then a normal healthy woman, which is another reason that the flu vaccination is vitally important.

“Even though it’s January, it is not too late to get your free vaccine, which will protect you and your unborn baby for the remainder of the winter and avoid unnecessary anguish. I strongly recommend pregnant women to visit their GP and receive the vaccine as soon as possible - it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“I’m looking forward to interacting with pregnant women from across Scotland on Wednesday evening, and offering them my advice.”

Dr Nicola Steedman, the Scottish Government’s Senior Medical Officer, reinforced the importance of getting immunised against flu: “It is so important that pregnant women take the time to get vaccinated against flu, even if they currently feel healthy and fit. Not having the vaccine simply isn’t worth the risk, for you or your baby.

“The Q&A this week will be a unique opportunity for mums-to-be to seek advice and reassurance from one of Scotland’s leading healthcare professionals with over 40 years of experience, as well as being a qualified midwife. I’d encourage any woman with doubts, concerns or perhaps even just questions about the flu jab to log in to Twitter this Wednesday and speak to Gillian directly.”

All members of the public are invited to join the live Q&A on Twitter. Details below:

Join live Q&A #askscotflu

Health expert: Gillian Smith from Royal College of Midwives

Wednesday 29 January at 5pm

Tweet us @scotgovhealth

Notes to editors


Latest uptake figures show that a number of people have yet to be vaccinated across Scotland, including:

  • 44.3 per cent of people under 65 with underlying health problems such as asthma and diabetes
  • 54.7 per cent of pregnant women
  • 49.3 or two and three year olds who are offered the nasal spray vaccination

Vaccine uptake figures are average figures provided by GP practices who have submitted data.

Incidences of flu are reported in Health Protection Scotland’s National Influenza Report week ending 19 January 2014.

The flu immunisation programme is the single largest immunisation programme to take place in Scotland.

Getting protected from flu is important for people with underlying health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, MS and other heart, lung and liver problems and those suffering from lowered immunity), as well as pregnant women. These groups can be hit harder by flu, are three times more likely to be hospitalised by flu and can suffer more serious complications, even if they previously felt fit and healthy.

The flu vaccination is available for free to:

  • People aged 65 and over;
  • Those under 65 with a condition that puts them at greater risk;
  • Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • Unpaid carers
  • Health and Social care workers

For more information on flu see