Pregnant mothers are encouraged to get vaccinated against whooping cough and influenza to protect mother and baby, says Nelson Marlborough District Health Board’s associate director of midwifery, Debbie Fisher.
Debbie, who is 34 weeks pregnant with her first baby, says she wants to do everything she can to protect local babies and mothers. “Our babies are precious, and as a mother, I want to make sure that every mother, who is carrying their unborn child, gets this message, to get vaccinated and know that it’s free.”
“Getting vaccinated against flu and whooping cough will protect mother and her baby in the first weeks of life, and it is is free for pregnant mothers. Vaccinating against these contagious illnesses also helps stop the spread of influenza and whooping cough in the community,” she says.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends that pregnant women should be given the highest priority in the seasonal influenza vaccination programme, due to additional risks for pregnant women if they contract influenza during pregnancy.
This year’s flu vaccine covers two new strains that were not in last year’s vaccine.
Pregnant women who get the flu during pregnancy are 18 times more likely to end up in hospital due to pregnancy complications, says the Associate Director of Midwifery.
“This is why getting vaccinated against whooping cough and influenza during pregnancy is something easy and simple that pregnant mothers, including myself, can do. It provides important protection to a newborn baby when their immune system are so immature.”
“We also encourage partners and other family members to please do their part to help protect newborn babies by getting vaccinated too so they don’t pass on these highly contagious infections,” she says.
Debbie’s midwife Terry Wiffen backs the call for pregnant mothers to get immunised.
“It is the midwives’ role to provide evidence-based information to pregnant women so they can make an informed decision for their health, and their baby’s health and wellbeing,” says Terry.
“Getting vaccinated in pregnancy is recommended in New Zealand and internationally and I have local women who are pregnant saying to me, “getting immunised is a no-brainer.”
NMDHB Service Manager for Women, Child and Youth, Jane Kinsey says it is fantastic that our health system has free vaccinations to pregnant women against whooping cough and influenza at a time when pregnant women and their babies need it the most.
To get vaccinated against whooping cough and influenza, pregnant mothers and their families can talk to your midwife or GP to make an appointment to get both vaccines at no cost.