Pregnant women to receive free whooping cough vaccinations
“We urge pregnant women to ensure they are vaccinated in their third trimester, ideally at 28-32 weeks, as it offers the best protection for babies until their first vaccination at six weeks of age,” NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said.
Evidence shows that receiving vaccinations during this time reduces the risk of infants contracting whooping cough, which is potentially fatal.
“Whooping cough vaccination during pregnancy has been studied in more than 40,000 women in the United States and the United Kingdom and is shown to be very safe,” Chant said. “Studies in the U.K., United States and Israel provide evidence that the best way to protect infants too young to be vaccinated themselves – who are at highest risk of morbidity and mortality – is through vaccinating the mother during pregnancy.”
Chant said epidemics of pertussis occur about every three to four years as community immunity wears down. The last whooping cough epidemic ended in 2012, and Chant said she is seeing numbers that indicate the start of another one.
“It is vital that parents also ensure all their children are up to date with their vaccinations to minimize the risk of whooping cough circulating in the family,” she said. “Adults in close contact with young babies should also discuss the benefits of the vaccine, which is available on prescription, with their (general practitioner).”
The pregnancy immunization recommendation comes from The National Health and Medical Research Council.