Immunisation helps protect children and whānau

Plunket is encouraging all pregnant women to get immunised against both whooping cough and influenza.

Immunisation Week (30 April – 6 May) this year is all about immunisation from pregnancy onwards.

“Immunisation is an important tool in preventing the spread of disease and it’s free”, says Dr Jane O’Malley, Plunket’s Chief Nurse.

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“It is at this time of the year especially when the colder weather sets in that pregnant women, babies and children, as well as the elderly are more susceptible to diseases such as influenza and whooping cough”, says Dr O’Malley.

Getting immunised during pregnancy helps protect babies as some of the mother’s immunity will be passed to her baby until they are old enough to be immunised themselves.

Babies who are sick with whooping cough may not be able to feed or breathe properly. They can become very ill and may need to be cared for in hospital.

New Zealand is currently experiencing a national outbreak of whooping cough, with over 30 babies hospitalised already this year. Whooping cough can have serious complications and is often spread by family members or friends.

“We encourage family members to protect babies from anyone with a cough. The community has a role to play in looking after young children during this outbreak. Make sure you’re completely well if visiting a baby.”

“Immunisations for babies and children usually start at six weeks for babies and is the best way to ensure your baby has the best protection against disease”, says Dr O’Malley.

Whooping cough immunisation is free to any woman who is between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant. Influenza immunisation is free for pregnant women at any stage during influenza season (late autumn and winter).

If parents, whānau or caregivers have any concerns about their child’s health or when they are due for their immunisations, they should contact their GP or they can call PlunketLine (0800 933 922) free from any phone 24/7 to talk with one of the nurses.

It is never too late to catch up, even if a child has fallen behind on the immunisation schedule.

by Angela Eglinton 1 May 2018

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