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Pregnant women offered free whooping cough immunisation

Pregnant women urged to have free immunisation to help protect their baby from whooping cough

A free whooping cough vaccine is now available to all pregnant women to help protect their newborn babies from this serious disease.

The ongoing whooping cough outbreak has resulted in Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service being notified of 283 people with whooping cough in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts during 2012, with 16 people requiring hospitalisation. Of these 283 people, 25 were babies aged one year and under and 34 were young children aged from one to four years old. So far this year another 21 cases of whooping cough have been notified to Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service. Babies under one year old who get whooping cough are most at risk of serious complications and more likely to need hospitalisation.

“Whooping cough can be a very serious disease for young babies,” says Dr Neil de Wet. “During this ongoing outbreak of whooping cough, I strongly recommend that pregnant women get immunised to help protect their newborn baby from whooping cough.”

“Having a whooping cough booster during pregnancy reduces the risk of mums developing whooping cough and passing the infection on. In addition, mothers will pass on some immunity to their baby,” says Dr de Wet.

“When pregnant women get vaccinated, not only are they helping to protect their own health, they’re helping to protect their baby too,” says Dr de Wet.

Immunisations given on time, every time is the best way to provide ongoing protection for babies through childhood. Whooping cough immunisations should be given when a baby is 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months old and boosters are given to children at 4 years and 11 years of age.

From 1 January 2013 and until the outbreak finishes, all pregnant women can get a free whooping cough vaccine between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy from their GP. Other adults caring for infants should consider having a whooping cough booster too. Contact your GP to discuss further.

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