Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Swine flu victim's family plea over vaccinations

Marianne Johnston and baby Leon
Marianne Johnston died shortly after giving birth

The family of a woman who died from swine flu after giving birth have urged all pregnant women to get vaccinated against the virus.

Marianne Johnston, 20, who was from Clydebank in West Dunbartnoshire, is thought to have contracted H1N1 while she was pregnant with her son, Leon.

Ms Johnston developed symptoms of swine flu after she returned home with her new baby.

The number of people with H1N1 fell last week from 12,300 to around 9,000.

Just days after leaving hospital and returning home to her partner William Laird and one-year-old son Jay, Ms Johnston was sent to Glasgow's Western Infirmary with swine flu like symptoms.

After her symptoms worsened, she was moved to the intensive care ward, where she was put on a ventilator.

She was later transferred to London's Royal Brompton Hospital for specialist treatment, but died on November 29 after developing complications including deep vein thrombosis and bleeding on her brain.

Mairanne's sister Kirsty Johnston
It is not just random it is happening all over the place and don't take the chance with your own life or with your child
Kirsty Johnston

Marianne Johnston's sister, Kirsty, said: "Think about people who have lost babies due to this and Marianne now has a child and my nephew does not have a mum.

"If they have any doubt just think about what can happen."

In a plea to all pregnant women, she added: "It is not just random, it is happening all over the place and don't take the chance with your own life or with your child, have the sore arm for two days, because I am sure if Marianne had the option now she would take the sore arm any day.

"I don't think that there would be any doubt in their minds."

Vaccine uptake

Figures from the Scottish government showed that only a quarter of people who are eligible for the swine flu vaccination have had it.

Almost half of all NHS staff have had the vaccination.

The extent of vaccination uptake was revealed as the most recent figures showed another drop in the number of swine flu cases.

We know that pregnant women are more at risk of developing complications if they contract this illness and vaccination will protect not only them but their unborn baby
Nicola Sturgeon
Health Secretary

Health officials estimate that 8,900 people caught the virus in the past week, down from 12,300 over the previous seven days.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "It is encouraging to note a drop in the number of cases of flu-like illness again this week.

"As more people are vaccinated we should continue to see these numbers fall as immunity to H1N1 increases."

Vaccine uptake for pregnant women was 36.7%, while it was 33.2% for under-65s and 20.3% for over-65s, giving an average of 25.5% for the entire at-risk group.

The estimated uptake rate for front-line health and social care staff was 45.7% and 29.5% respectively - both increases on the previous week.

Ms Sturgeon added: "We have seen all too often this year the tragic consequences of people developing complications from H1N1 and the best protection against this is vaccination.

"In particular, I would again urge pregnant women to come forward to be vaccinated.

"We know that pregnant women are more at risk of developing complications if they contract this illness and vaccination will protect not only them but their unborn baby.

"Health boards and GP surgeries are continuing to focus their efforts on getting pregnant women vaccinated to ensure that they are all offered the jab by Christmas."



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SEE ALSO
First swine flu vaccine launched
21 Oct 09 |  Scotland
Pregnant woman in swine flu scare
20 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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