FEWER Isle of Wight pregnant women saw their doctor for a flu jab last winter than anywhere else in the south.

Only 42 per cent — 322 out of 769 pregnant women registered with a GP — had the jab between September and February.

It was lowest uptake of all eight Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas in the region.

In North West Hampshire, more than 55 per cent of pregnant women had the flu jab.

The figure rose to almost 60 per cent in North East Hampshire and Farnham.

Isle of Wight doctors and midwives have now urged pregnant women to protect themselves and their unborn child by making sure they are vaccinated.

An NHS spokesperson said: "Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system and, as a result, increases the risk of a mother and unborn baby becoming seriously ill from flu.

"All pregnant women are recommended to receive the flu vaccine irrespective of their stage of pregnancy.

There is strong evidence that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu, which can harm them and their baby. These risks include bronchitis, pneumonia and an increased risk of having a miscarriage or the baby being born prematurely or with a low birth weight."

NHS England medical director for Hampshire and Thames Valley, Dr Shahed Ahmad, said: "Flu is a serious risk to both the mother and unborn baby. Pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications from flu.

"The vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy and is safe for mother and baby. So if you are pregnant and haven’t yet had your vaccine, please speak with your GP, maternity service provider or local participating pharmacy as soon as possible.

"The vaccine is free and will offer protection to you and your baby."