A free whooping cough vaccine is now available to all pregnant in the Bay of Plenty women to help protect their newborn babies from the serious disease.
Mothers-to be are being urged to get a free whooping cough vaccine.
The ongoing whooping cough outbreak has resulted in Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service being notified of 21 people with whooping cough in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts this year, on top of the 283 in 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.
Babies under one year old who get whooping cough are most at risk of serious complications and more likely to need hospitalisation, says doctor Neil de Wet.
“Whooping cough can be a very serious disease for young babies,” says Neil.
“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.
“When pregnant women get vaccinated, not only are they helping to protect their own health, they're helping to protect their baby too.”
Immunisations given on time, every time is the best way to provide ongoing protection for babies through childhood, says Neil.
Whooping cough immunisations should be given when a baby is six weeks, three months and five months old, with boosters given to children at four and 11 years old.
From January 1, 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.
For more information visit www.ttophs.govt.nz/whooping_cough