Animation is first of its kind to tackle life-threatening flu during pregnancy

Animation of baby picture
Research news

Monday 17 December 2018

Press contact

Hannah Smith

Coventry and Warwickshire researchers and midwives are hoping to use the power of sharing to help save lives by encouraging more pregnant women to take up the flu jab, all with the help of a new animation.

Researchers from Coventry University have worked with health professionals and new mothers to create the pioneering video in hope of addressing figures which show that less than half of all expectant mothers are being vaccinated against flu each year.

Due to changes in the body during pregnancy, women at this time are far more susceptible to catching the virus, and are five times more likely to be hospitalised with serious symptoms as a result - with one in 11 maternal deaths recorded in England between 2009 and 2012 being caused by flu.

But despite the increased risks, during the last flu season just 47 percent of pregnant women in the UK received the vaccination.

The new animation from Coventry researchers is hoping to turn things around and drastically increase uptake of the flu jab by giving mothers clear information about the health benefits, what the vaccination contains and how it works in the body.

The project has been led by the university’s Centre for Advances in Behavioural Science.

Researcher, Joanne Parsons

We spoke to many pregnant women as part of this project, and the overriding response was that they didn’t believe flu was a serious risk, so this project is about spreading the right messages in a very accessible way.

We wanted to explore these beliefs of pregnant women and use them to help increase the knowledge and perception women have on the dangers of flu as a way to encourage more to get themselves vaccinated. The fact is not enough women are aware of the dangers.

A lot of expectant mums thought the jab would cause undesirable side effects like giving them and their baby flu and that put them off having it, which is a very worrying message when the advice is that all women be immunised against flu while pregnant.

What we found once we shared the animation and its messages, women were much more likely to want to share the information with friends and family in the same position.

Nadia Inglis, consultant in public health for Warwickshire and Coventry councils

We are really pleased to have worked with Coventry University colleagues on development of this animation and to try to demystify flu vaccination for pregnant women.

Flu jabs are the best way to protect pregnant mums, and newborns in their first few months of life, from the sometimes serious complications of flu. We hope people enjoy the animation and we would love to hear any feedback that people may have.

The video is the first known animation based on theory which aims to increase pregnant women’s uptake of the flu vaccination by looking at changing perceptions of risk among expectant mothers.

University researchers worked with Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council who helped fund production of the animation which is now being rolled out as part of local Public Health seasonal flu campaigns across social media, and shared online by NHS trusts, and Public Health England.

Midwives across Coventry and Warwickshire have also been given key fobs through which to show the short clip to women during routine appointments

It is available at, and can be shared on social media via the @CovUni_CABS Twitter account.