Immunisation Week 2016: Protection starts during pregnancy

Press Release – University of Auckland

Immunisation Week 2016: Protection starts during pregnancy

Expectant mums can start protecting their babies from serious illnesses before their baby is born.

“When we give mum a vaccine she passes her immunity on to her baby and this can carry baby through until they get their own immunisations,” explains Dr Helen Petousis-Harris from the Immunisation Advisory Centre.

This year’s Immunisation Week (May 2-9) focusses upon the great benefits of immunisation during pregnancy. Expectant mums are encouraged to be immunised against whooping cough and influenza during pregnancy, to enrol early with a midwife and GP and continue on to immunise baby on time.

Every year immunisation helps stop preventable diseases from spreading through our communities causing sickness and death among our most young and vulnerable.

“Diseases that devastated our families are almost relegated to history books – polio, mumps, and Hib to name a few,” says Dr Petousis-Harris.

“While our rates of immunisation have improved greatly in the last decade, there is still a minority of children that remain unimmunised, and at a greater risk of catching a life-threatening illness

“Measles, for example, spreads quickly through a community when the level of immunisation is lower than 95%. There are still many in some communities who are adolescents o young adults who are not immune.”

Whooping cough can cause babies to become seriously ill, and can sometimes be deadly. Immunisation against whooping cough during pregnancy protects nine out of ten babies in their first few weeks of life, until they are fully immunised.

Getting the flu while pregnant can be serious for the mother – and baby. In fact, pregnant women are five times more likely to be admitted to hospital when suffering from influenza-related complications than women who are not pregnant. And the vaccination may be given at any stage of the pregnancy.

“The success of immunisation means that we are inclined to forget about the seriousness of the diseases we seldom see. But the current outbreaks of whooping cough in Wellington and measles in Waikato remind us that we can still do better.”

ENDS

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